Mrs. Brown is a remarkably literate and sophisticated film. In 1861 Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) has shocked the English people by her self-imposed exile from public life following the death of her husband Albert. Both her attendants and her children are worried about the depth of her depression. Then miraculously, John Brown (Billy Connolly), a Scottish servant who handles the royal family's horses and hunting expeditions, takes it upon himself to lift the spirits of the dour Queen. His single-minded devotion to this task angers Sir Henry Ponsonby (Geoffrey Palmer), the Queen's personal secretary, as well as Bertie (David Westhead), the Prince of Wales. They are both taken aback at Brown's disregard of protocol and his nonconformist personality. But the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (Anthony Sher), sees a way to use Brown's love for the Queen to get her to resume her public duties.

The screenplay by Jeremy Brock explores the unusual platonic friendship between the Queen of the British Empire and the Scottish servant. Brown helps this troubled widow find her way back to life by reintroducing her to the land and the simple folk who live upon it. His loyalty to her is reciprocated by her high regard for him. Director John Madden gives Mrs. Brown just the right mix of domestic drama and political intrigue. And Judi Dench and Billy Connolly give smashingly good performances.