Movie Review – The King’s Speech
February 1, 2011 Leave a comment
I’m gonna start this post off by saying that it might be lackluster. You can attribute your inevitable disappointment to a number of factors, including but not limited to: Two Months of Unemployment Ennui, distraction, and the simple fact that this movie was too good to criticize.
So, The King’s Speech is the story of George VI, back when he was just Prince Albert, Duke of York, who suffered from a studdering problem. In previous years, this perhaps would not have been incredibly important, but in the Age of Radio (and later film), it is quite significant. The poor bastard is forced to make speech after speech as the situation in Europe heats up toward the inevitable Second World War, and as his brother chooses love over country. So, he goes from doctor to doctor (including perhaps a reference to Henry Higgins?), who are all ultimately unable to help His Majesty. Luckily for Bertie, his plucky wife finds Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa) as speech therapist Lionel Logue. Geoffrey Rush is able to make progress with Bertie, and in so doing becomes his friend and confidante. And so, England was saved from awkward pauses and stinted speeches, and was blessed with eloquence forever. The End.
OK so that got unexpectedly trite at the end, and I apologize. I really did like this movie. If I had to summarize it in one word, however, it would be “charming.”
There’s nothing wrong with Charming. Charming is nice. Charming isn’t Preachy like Avatar. It isn’t shockingly Original like Inception. It isn’t Bold like Black Swan. It isn’t Relevant like The Social Network. It isn’t Pure Awesome like True Grit. But Charming is nice. Charming is uncomplicated. Charming has a happy ending and makes you believe in the power of friendship. And you know what? Charming is under-rated.
In this day and age (aaaannnnndddd now The Killers are stuck in my head – this is NOT a complaint), happy endings are looked down upon. I mean, out of my Top Five movies of the year, Inception ended on a question mark, Toy Story – while happy – left me crying, Harry Potter ended in a major death, and True Grit in - SPOILER ALERT – an amputation and a funeral. Only Scott Pilgrim had a truly happy ending. I mean, what’s wrong with “And they remained friends all their life” as opposed to accidentally stabbing yourself with broken glass and dying in your first performance?
ANYWAY I guess I’m saying it’s refreshing to end on an “Awwww” rather than an “Ewwww” or a “WHAT?!?”
Regarding THIS movie and NOT movies as a whole, I really have to praise the acting. Colin Firth plays sad puppy eyes so well, you can’t help but sympathize and like him. And as you get to know his dad and his brother and his history (evil nanny, anyone?), you begin to pity him all the more. I mean the guy didn’t really have a friend until the
undead Australian ship captain speech therapist. That sucks. But he’s also capable of believable anger, fear, humor, and love. He was somewhat understated, but in a VERY good way.
I also thought Helena Bonham Carter was fantastic. It’s refreshing to see her in a normal role – not that she isn’t fantastic in stranger roles as well. I thought she played the supporting wife and perhaps overly formal duchess very well, and many of my favorite scenes included her. I certainly understand her nomination as Best Supporting Actress, although I think her role was too small to justify a win (and I’d have rather seen Mila Kunis get a nom, but that’s a post for another day).
And of course Geoffrey Rush was great. I loved his character.
The story was excellent. It had plenty of dramatic tension. It had humor. It had beautiful locations and beautifully shot scenes. The music was impeccable. The casting was spot-on. It was all-around wonderful.
Minor complaints: I felt like Edward was perhaps made into too much of an ass. I mean, yes, he gave up the throne for an American socialite during a crucial period in England’s history, and was certainly being cuckolded, but he just seemed douchier and wimpier than I think was probably true. I also thought the revelation that Logue was not a doctor came a little late in the game, and was resolved far too quickly. But these are really minor complaints.
Stray Observations: I loved all the Harry Potter alums. I mean, we had Bellatrix Lestrange, Albus Dumbledore, and Peter Pettigrew as a Duchess, a King, and a future Prime Minister respectively. I also really liked the montage of speech therapy. It was a lot of fun.
My prediction is that this is the movie that will win Best Picture. I would rather it go to Inception (let’s reward originality, amazig direction, superb casting, and a big EFF YOU to the whole 3-D and over-reliance on CGI thing), or True Grit, but this film basically screams “ACADEMY AWARD,” and I certainly wouldn’t mind it winning.