By Matt Zoller Seitz.
"It is rare to find such beauty gifted with the power of self-expression." That's Queen Elizabeth I, the title character of HBO's miniseries "Elizabeth I," talking to a handsome and charming young earl. But the compliment could have been paid to the program's star, Helen Mirren, whose performance in the title role is an unqualified triumph. This two-part English-U.S. co-production (Saturday and Monday at 8 p.m. on HBO) is directed by Tom Hooper ("Prime Suspect 6") and written by Nigel Williams ("Bertie and Elizabeth"). It follows Elizabeth I (1533-1603) during the second half of her reign, when she crushed conspirators and went to war against Spain while her own advisers pressured her to do things she didn't want to do—like getting married, for instance.
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