Thursday, March 3, 2011

The King's Speech

I know this is very late review but had tests and i couldn't afford to be distracted. So, here it is.

Now The King's Speech clearly doesn't need me doing any kind of explanation, it is that good the best screenplay, with the best performances in the best film of the year. That’s all! The best piece of advice I can give you is to go and see this film as soon as you possibly can. This film is the whole package, every part of it from the tiny details about driving through fog to the grand speeches given by a King declaring WWII to the necessary comedic swearing that helps the Kind overcome his stutter — everything in this film is perfectly executed. Colin Firth, who rightfully won that golden guy (oscar) on 27th feb and won a Golden Globe and other accolades. Don’t let people tell you about this film, go and see it for yourself.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the story of King George VI, or subsequently The King’s Speech, here’s the official summary:

"After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING’S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice."

As mentioned in the summary, the entire movie revolves around the importance of voice. With the recent invention of the wireless radio, as well as the growing threat of Nazi Germany, King George VI is forced into a unique moment in history – where a King’s radio booth is suddenly more important than his throne.

Despite being the type of role typically labeled as “Oscar-shoe in” which it proved to be, Colin Firth’s performance as the stammering Prince Albert (George VI) is an honest portrayal that never oversteps the boundary between interpretation and caricature. While Firth’s stammering is certainly painful to listen to, it’s clear this is Hooper’s desired effect – and the director balances Albert’s stammers, as well as his succeeding frustration and anger, with a charming performance by Geoffrey Rush as the Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue.

Very few films that take place during WWII can have Hitler play a supporting role to a speech impediment, and have jokes about Hitler’s strong speech play so well. The film is able to balance the severity of the situation with a very honest and realistic perspective. At times they tread on some possibly dangerous ground, but because they handle the topic with such grace, what could be considered rude or offensive is actually quite interesting, important and even at times humorous.

Solely, The King’s Speech concerns itself with the historical implications of a stutter. In one corner, it has Colin Firth’s Duke of York, soon to be George VI, wrestling with the speech impediment that has rendered public speaking a nightmare. In the other, we find Hitler, a leader whose very appeal lay in his oratorical skills. Closer to home, George V (Michael Gambon) is marching towards the gravest of silences, and the Duke’s brother, Edward (Guy Pearce), can talk solely of that Simpson woman. The need for someone to step up to the plate – or radio microphone – grows ever greater. This is a film in which the Empire is threatened not by war, but by dead air.

Drafted in to address this vacuum is Harley Street speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a garrulous Australian with a fondness for garish interior design. The duke’s sessions with Logue form the film’s dramatic meat, but a full British repertory is on hand to observe their progress. Helena Bonham Carter is loving, eccentric, and nigh-perfect casting as the young Queen Mother; Derek Jacobi is a fretting Archbishop of Canterbury, approaching the coronation like a church fête threatened by rain; and Timothy Spall offers a sly Churchill.

Like many dramas that revolve around a “burgeoning friendship” dynamic, many of the best moments in The King’s Speech are centered around the dynamic between the two would-be friends as Logue attempts to draw the stubborn Prince Albert down from his high horse, in order to truly address the root of the problem (Albert’s fear of being King). In the process, the audience is treated to a number of great moments: some humorous, some painful, and others that are genuinely inspiring.

That said, at times a few of these moments can follow the three act historical drama a bit too closely – resulting in several predictable character arcs. Without giving anything away, the end of the first and second acts are each punctuated with some misunderstanding or regression that tears at Lionel and Albert’s friendship. Surely the pair had their ups and downs in real life, and the framework doesn’t ruin the film or even take much away from the viewer’s enjoyment, but, because of where they’re placed, these moments end up coming across as the contrived movements of the plot, instead of the organic transition of the characters.

At the end, The King’s Speech is a terrific film with great performances by the cast, as well as an inspiring, not to mention charming, story about a man who not only finds his voice, but finds his place as one of the most important leaders in history.


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