Sunday, 16 January 2011

REVIEW: The King's Speech.

Dir.: Tom Hooper
With: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham-Carter.

I must admit that when I went into the cinema, I was prepared to dislike The King’s Speech. Being spiteful as I am, I thought the fact that every critic seems to love this film is a bad sign, that it’s either sentimental or melodramatic. My friend and I were also two of the few non-bald or grey-haired people in the audience. The cinema was surprisingly full of pensioners. This tiny grey-haired and bespectacled lady next to me laughed in the most inappropriate moments and kept whispering comments into her husband’s ear. I am really not a fan of pensioners in the cinema I realised. They make the atmosphere rather solemn.

The film itself ticks all the right boxes of what you would expect from a period drama, it’s well acted and directed. Everything seems in place, there is a coherent story, each character has his own arc. It is nice to see Helena Bonham-Carter in a non-Tim Burton film, looking like a normal human being, which she does rather well. Colin Firth is obviously one of the strongest actors of his generation and he will probably be nominated for an Oscar, but I feel like he is always offered the same type of roles – an unhappy, uncomfortable Englishman with a stiff upper lip and repressed emotions. I was trying to think of a film where he is actually seen laughing, but I couldn’t. Recently he’s been in a small Italian film “Genoa”, “A Single Man” and now “The King’s Speech”; he played a depressed widower, a man who is about to commit suicide and a miserable stammerer. It would be quite diverting to see him in a slightly different role, a less furrowed brow and more twinkle in the eye would do him good I feel.

As for the historical accuracy of the film, who knows what really went down behind the scenes at the Buckingham Palace; the story is based on Lionel Logue’s (Geoffrey Rush’s character) diaries. One important part of history that was awkwardly omitted is the appeasement. The film jumps from George’s VI coronation to the declaration of war with Germany, ignoring the fact that the British government was trying to make deals with Hitler. This of course, makes the king seem as the “good guy”, an icon of the resistance who bravely overcame his personal problems. I don’t mean to belittle the problem of stammering. I had a childhood friend whose stammer was quite severe and everyone around him would pretend like everything is fine when he took absolute ages to formulate his thoughts and you could see the humiliation on his face when he spoke. It truly is a debilitating quality to have and what the film portrays accurately is that it is almost always caused by psychological trauma.

I don’t know if I would watch The King's Speech again, maybe if it’s on TV on a Sunday afternoon. Still, it is a top-quality drama, although a very predictable one.

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