Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: The King's Speech

Every so often, the Brits release a stately, well-crafted drama about their royal blood. So, like its predecessor The Queen, The King's Speech may not be the most exciting or original movie of the year, but it is historically accurate, extremely well made, impeccably acted, and a rousing drama about a beloved man overcoming his flaws to rise to the occasion and save an empire.

As Liz, the future Queen Mum so aptly puts it, "My husband is...well...required to speak publicly." Her husband was of course Prince Albert, or Bertie as he was known (Colin Firth), the Duke of York, and the second in line to the English throne. However, poor Bertie developed a speech impediment, a stammer, when he was a young child, and despite his father's pleadings (the always incredible Michael Gambon) to improve, the stammer had developed into a major problem. After many different attempts, his beloved wife (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out the help of an unconvential Australian speech therapist Lionel (Geoffrey Rush). There are many ups and downs, as Bertie has a temper, and Lionel's personal and controversial tactics can sometimes be sources of conflict. However, the therapy begins to help.

But when his playboy brother Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates the throne to be with the woman he loves, a twice-divorced American, Bertie is quickly put in the last position he wants to be, sitting on the throne. As Hitler's presence over Europe turns quickly into war, Bertie must overcome his stammer to address the nation and rally his people to the cause.

The King's Speech is a incredibly hilarious, and awe-inspiring piece of cinematic gold that is anchored by its incredible performances. In their small roles, Pearce, Gambon, and Timothy Spalling (as Churchill) do wonders with little screen time. Helena Bonham Carter is charming and supportive as Liz. Geoffrey Rush is impeccably funny as Lionel, and both he and Carter deserve Oscar nods (which they will most likely get). But the real revelation here is the wonderful Colin Firth. He perfectly captures the nervousness and stammer of Bertie, without being over the top, and his performance will most likely earn him his second Oscar nomination, and hopefully, his first win.

To help anchor the performances, Hooper has assembled an incredible team that perfectly masters the technicals, and  Alexandre Desplat deftly utilizes Beethoven Seventh Symphony that perfectly captures the ebbs and flows of Berties story. It is a wonder for the eyes and ears, despite being such a stately drama.

If there are any problems, is that it can be predictable and stale at times. However, as a future historian, I appreciate that they chose more boring historical facts, over horrific dramatic flourishes that many, so-called "history" movies utilize to no end. So even though it could be slow at times, it could have been much much worse. Overall, I can see why many critics believe this is the frontrunner to win the top prize over more modern dramas like The Social Network, as it is the classic, awards-baiting film that usually reaps many prizes come Oscar time. However, this was not made to win awards. Instead it is a passionate movie that shows us the human side of those at the top, and paints a loving memoir of three incredible individuals in a concise, yet emotional story that is worth being seen.

Oscar Potential: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Original Score

Grade: A-

No comments:

Post a Comment