Thursday, 10 February 2011

Review: The King's Speech

As narrow minded as one may appear, one never has been partial for Monarchy-based debauchery, especially on the big screen. One tolerated 2006's The Queen and have, as a rule, avoided the genre due to its lack of appeal. I did however break such a tradition when I was swayed by dazzling write ups of The King's Speech being hailed a surprise package, a sensation, a gem if you will. Amidst claims that the film is so splendidly written and acted, the Oscar nominations were tipped to arrive in abundance. Which it did. Did I mention I acquired myself some free tickets? So thought I'd give it a go, and why the hell not?
My preconceptions regarding a film focusing on Prince Albert (Colin Firth) documenting his battle with a life long stammer, bullying Brother David (Guy Pierce) and subsequent rise through the monarchy, were those of scepticism. Director Tom Hooper's only other outing, The Damned United and a long list of television, left me questioning if I would take anything from this film at all. Upon exiting the cinema, I wasn't left with a profound sense of emotion, nor shock, probably because the film wasn't set up in such a way. Whilst I was neither speechless nor astounded, I was, in fact, pleasantly surprised.

The feel to the film is typically British (obviously), yet deviates from past Royal interpretations positively. The stiff upper lip and high brow setting is complimented by intelligent humour and an obscene amount of, if you pardon my low brow blasphemy; fucks (amongst other profanities during one memorable scene). The outcome is a sharp, witty and entertaining script brought to life brilliantly by Firth and support; Geoffrey Rush, who plays speech therapist Lionel, who, to be honest, steals several scenes and proves worthy of his Best Supporting Male nod.

In honesty, aside from a well written script, it's Firth and Rush that carry the film, along with a gracious support from Helena Bonham Carter who plays Bertie's wife Elizabeth. The film progresses at a slow and methodical pace as Albert (or Bertie as he is affectionately referred to) attempts to overcome his speech impediment as the family hierarchy restructures, due to his Father, King George V's death. A sense of urgency is then established to rid himself of his crippling stutter as Bertie panics over his ascension to the throne and impending speech to the nation.

The King's Speech is an entertaining watch and exuded sympathy during some delicately handled scenes. The simplicity of emotion is played to great effect, allowing the audience to empathise with both Bertie and Lionel, respectively. The film reaches a contrived climax with heart warming and a somewhat pleasant outcome, a comforting satisfaction and conclusion in fitting with the straight and narrow story arc.

The Oscar buzz surrounding The King's Speech is inevitable and, to an extent, justified. With nominations for Firth, Rush, Bonham-Carter as well as Best Picture, Screenplay and Director short listings, it's certainly made a lasting impression with the people that matter. Rush is more than worthy to pick up Best Supporting Male, which should leave the remaining gongs, in my opinion,  to more deserving contenders such as Black Swan (Directing) or Inception (Original Screenplay).

The King's Speech sets out to tell a real and simplistic story and, to it's credit, does so very effectively. Whilst nothing revolutionary takes place in terms of film making, its craftily devised script and genuine performances are what makes it a good, but not great film. I, for one, would be a little disappointed to see it clean sweep the Oscars later this month, where, I feel, there are others more worthy of acclaim. One surely can't have ones cake and eat it, or can they?
Sources : Internet Movie DataBase
Images : Google Images