Helen Mirren - In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
‘I have a blissfully forgetful brain,’ Helen Mirren informs us in the opening paragraph of her autobiography, which hardly bodes well for a book which demands total recall. But Mirren has dredged the past up from somewhere, or someone, because In the Frame is rich in detail, often of the minutest quality. As a reader of autobiographies herself, Mirren always heads straight for the photos, and has assumed the same proclivity in us. In actual fact, Mirren’s extensive career on the stage and screens both small and big could easily have filled many more pages of prose, given how engaging the small amount here is.
For the generations with little knowledge of Mirren’s life pre-Prime Suspect, her theatrical anecdotes will hold particular fascination. So synonymous has she become with DCI Jane Tennison – and latterly Queen Elizabeths I and II – that it’s easy to forget Mirren’s endless CV filled with juicy stage roles and film characters. Mirren has packed much into her 62 years, and this incredibly diverse collection of photographs captures both her personal and professional life. From her schoolgirl days in Essex, to playing Ophelia at the RSC and collecting her Oscar for The Queen, there is no shortage of pivotal moments. Lengthy sections devoted to Mirren’s Russian heritage, parents and schooling are interesting to a point, but it is not until she spreads her wings as an actress that this book really takes flight. From there, like any good entertainer, Mirren always leaves us wanting more. (Kelly Apter)