The Best Picture winner of 2010, The King’s Speech is among the most visually compelling period dramas ever filmed. It frames its characters in unique ways, and the lighting alternates between stark intimidation and familial warmth depending on where the prince/king is. Some scenes even have the faded, stage-like appearance of a Wes Anderson film. Director Tom Hooper, who went on to film 2012’s Les Miserables, undoubtedly deserved his Oscar.
Indeed, so did Colin Firth (who had earlier played one of the traumatized, stuttering World War I veterans mentioned by Logue in 1987’s A Month in the Country). His hesitant speech and unconscious stammer, which he later had difficulty purging himself of, are masterfully employed, yet they don’t define his character, whose fear of embarrassment and obvious love for his young daughters are expressed with equal talent. All the other actors are likewise exquisite, from Guy Pearce as Bertie’s irresponsible brother David to Helena Bonham Carter as his supportive wife Elizabeth. Having mainly seen him as Captain Barbossa in The Pirates of the Caribbean films, I was astonished by Geoffrey Rush’s performance as well, again capturing both Logue’s quirks and his humanity. I was also gratified to see Helena Bonham Carter in a serious and sympathetic film without any bizarre, deformed, or homicidal characters. (Side note: My grandmother loved the 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice, which starred Firth and Jennifer Ehle, who interestingly played Logue’s wife in this film.)
The film could have been G-rated, had it not been for two brief scenes in which Bertie deals with his stammer with a number of expletives in quick succession. While I appreciate that these parts serve a purpose, unlike in most films, they depreciate the otherwise refined production. In this case, such language in an otherwise splendid film bothers me more than if it otherwise deserved the R rating.
Notwithstanding, The King’s Speech is an elegant historical drama that puts a human face on the names in the history book, complete with stellar production values and an Oscar-worthy cast. Alexandre Desplat’s classical score also complements the dignified drama; though it seems like I’ve heard it countless times in other films and their trailers, the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony was an inspired choice to enhance the gravity of the climactic speech. Though it ends with feel-good smiles just as a war is starting, it’s clear that the king’s personal triumph will get the nation through it.Best line: (Logue, as Bertie is lighting a cigarette) “Please don’t do that.” (Bertie) “I’m sorry?” (Logue) “I believe sucking smoke into your lungs, well, it will kill you.” (Bertie) “My physicians say it relaxes the … the throat.” (Logue) “They’re idiots.” (Bertie) “They’ve all been knighted.” (Logue) “Makes it official, then.”
Artistry: 10 Characters/Actors: 10 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 9 Watchability: 9 Other (music and stunning production values): +4 Other (language): -1 TOTAL: 50 out of 60
Next: #121 – Shrek
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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