Monday, January 31, 2011

The King's Speech review

I'm trying, as fast as I can, to watch all the Best Picture nominees for 2010.  The King's Speech was next in line, and boy was it worth the wait.  Tom Hooper directs Colin Firth as King George VI of Britain.  He was the country's leader just before World War II, and struggled with a stammer in his speech.  Helena Bonham Carter plays Firth's wife, Queen Elizabeth.  Geoffrey Rush plays the king's speech therapist, and the two form a close friendship as they tackle, The King's Speech

What I liked about the film:
The Cast
What an amazing ensemble.  Director Hooper didn't cast the biggest names, he cast the right people for the roles.  Firth has already won a Golden Globe and a SAG award for his take on the king.  He will most definitely win Best Actor at the Oscars.  He is simply brilliant.  He became the king.  His confidence was conveyed through his eyes and body, or the lack of I should say.  When Firth was around Carter and his daughters, he was comfortable, confident and stood tall.  When he was in front of an audience, he fell apart.  He was flustered and couldn't mutter a word.  It was wonderful to see Firth with his children, where he could be himself.  And even after he become king, he wanted to embrace his children with no formalities, a contradiction to the way Firth's character was raised with his father. 

He WILL win his first Oscar.  Carter, also nominated for an Oscar gives a heartbreaking performance.  She wants to be there for her husband in any way possible; even if that means recruiting Rush as the king's therapist behind his back.  She is deserving of her nomination, and it was nice to see her recognized. 

Geoffrey Rush steals the show!  He plays a failed actor who has devoted his career to helping those with speech impediments.  Rush stands for his beliefs in the face of the king.  It's either his way or the highway.  So the king must work with Rush on a daily basis, in his office, not in the comfort of his palace.  One of the best aspects of Rush's performance is how sincere he is.  He WANTS to help the king succeed.  He sees through Colin Firth's stammer and knows what kind of king he could be.  It was so fun to watch Rush and Firth go through the exercises to improve the king's speech.  They're funny, yet warm moments between the two characters.  Too bad Christian Bale will win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter, otherwise it would be Rush's Oscar to lose.  Magnificent job.

The Story
The movie is about a king with a speech problem?  How do you make an interesting and compelling story about that?  Director Tom Hooper has!  With the help of writer David Seidler, the story is amazing.  As the movie proceeds, we discover more and more factors that have played into the king's stammer.  His relationship with his father, his relationship with his brother, the way kids teased him; all important factors explained throughout the film.  As the story unfolds, we discover Rush is the king's only friend.  He motivates and encourages Firth to take over the thrown when his brother, played by Guy Pearce, has been deemed unfit to rule.  It was nice to watch a film that taught me a lot about a time and place in history that I didn't know much about. 

The Director
Pretty difficult task at hand I think; make a film about one speech in the history of the world.  Tom Hooper has made me a fan for life.  The build up, the anticipation leading up to the final speech is breathtaking.  My heart was racing in anticipation of the climax, the king's speech.  Hooper captured the place, London.  He also captured the time, the 20th century time of war.  It was amazing how the film intertwined Hitler's rise without it taking over the film.  The wardrobe was great and the score was phenomenal.  He's directed several projects from this era in the UK's history, hopefully he ventures out and we can see his skills in a different setting.

What I didn't like about the film?
Supporting Characters
Not really a "dislike" as much as a question mark.  There were a couple of characters that I was intrigued by and didn't get to see more of.  The relationship with Rush and his boys was amazing, and a total contradiction to Firth and his father.  I would have loved to see more of the boys.  Also, Guy Pearce's character intrigued and bewildered me.  Imagine what his character essentially does; he gives up the right to be one of the most powerful figures in the world, to be with a woman.  Wow, there's a movie there somewhere.  Great stuff.

The Verdict:
The movie was under MY radar, despite all the accolades.  I didn't really feel like it was a "must see", boy was I wrong.  The movie is something every movie fan should go see.  It's human emotion at its finest.  The love and friendship between Firth, Carter and Rush is undeniable.  The final speech moved me in a way that's difficult to describe.  It wasn't my generation, it wasn't my country, but I was so proud of the king.  He brought his people together at a time when they needed it most.  He was the leader they needed him to be.  The cast and director were at their very best.  I hope the movie continues to receive the recognition it deserves, and I will continue to promote it to the best of my ability.  Amazing film.

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