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The King's Speech REVIEW
posted 2/4/2011 5:11:34 AM

Why can't they make more film's like this?

It has been hard to miss the comments about The King's Speech in Australia. What with it been called "absolutely magnificent" by every reviewer from At The Movies Margaret Pomeranz to... well, someone else, and it being nominated for 12 Academy Awards. I myself was nervous about seeing this one because all the reviews had put me in an awkward position: what happens if I don't like it? Will I be cast out as a man of no honour and no personal identification of quality? Will I not be invited to Tom Hooper's (the director) birthday party. Could I have been the poor kid looking outside in the cold through the shop window at all the lovely reviewers inside, being heated by the nice, calming warmth of The King's Speech?

You might have notice I said "could I have been" in that last sentence. I am glad to say The King's Speech delivers - in more ways than one (if that wasn't given away in the first sentence of this review). I am glad to see that for the time being films are still being counted as an art form to get a message across rather than a mess of poorly acted scenes with no virtue other than being full of explosions (because apparently half the world's population can't sit still for more than 6 seconds without an load explosion or someone being shot happening on screen). The King's Speech is luckily in the former category. It is a truly shining example what you get when you place a well-written entertaining script, with excellent acting, brilliant atmosphere, and superb directing.

But I digress... I will talk about the core elements of the film later on. What you want is to first know what the movie is about (it's about more than a King's speech).

The film chronicles the life of Prince Albert (played by Colin Firth), Duke of York (known as that before becoming King George VI), and his difficult journey with a pre-existing speech impediment to eventually become King of England. Albert, after facing his father's death and his brother's abdication from the throne, must try to overcome his difficulty as World War II is looming, and England and her colonies need a leader they can stand behind.

Albert enlists the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush) to help him muster up the strength to be a full leader of - at that time - a quarter of the world.

The journey from simple Prince to King of England is one that is portrayed brilliantly. There is never a dull moment in this film. It fits nicely together from scene-to-scene.

Colin Firth really gives it his all in the picture. His portrayal of Prince Albert is good, but what sets him apart is his stammer. The Prince's speech impediment is realistic and feels genuine - not fake or overdone. The motivations behind Prince Albert in becoming King are well portrayed and it is nice to see that genuine work has gone in to making the characters relatable and interesting to watch. Partly because of the brilliant acting, but mostly because of a well-produced screenplay and fantastic directing.

A special nod should go to Alexandre Desplat for a solemnly and rather gentle soundtrack that goes almost perfectly with the atmosphere of the movie. You really feel the intensity of King George's wartime speech due to the fact that the sounds you hear, from speech to music, are intertwined and reverently powerful.

The atmosphere is quite well realised with the art direction and costumes doing a fantastic job to make the film feel like it really is 1939.

This film truly rewards you as you watch it. You just can't wait for the next scene to happen. You want to know what is next and you really are rewarded when you see the next heart-warming scene and touching moments as Albert and Lionel delve deeper into a friendly, mutual relationship. Again, Colin Firth does a brilliant job to make Albert seem alive and realistically relevant and it is a joy to watch him - from beginning to end.

While this is very much an arthouse film, it is one of the best I have seen these past few years. But this film isn't without its flaws. Guy Pearce's performance leaves much to be desired as he leaves us with an urge to want to forget about him altogether. His portrayal of King Edward VIII (however brief) isn't in-tune with the rest of the performances and isn't Pearce's most memorable work. What also isn't in-tune is Timothy Spall's portrayal of Winston Churchill. It's pure caricature. While it isn't a major role, it doesn't feel real at all - which is a shame because Churchill is a character (in any media) who deserves credit for being a major political figure and catalyst for British resistance during WWII.

But these minor flaws in no way remove the overall feel of the film and it is worth a look. I am not one to go rushing after British-made films, but I was pleasantly surprised by how fantastic this film is. A job nicely acted all around, with numerous touching moments and a historical backdrop that can't help but be dramatic - the titular speech, which Albert hopes to be his singular moment of triumph, is also a ringing knell of tragedy, discussing the war that is to come to his people - The King's Speech is a truly shining example of the movement of films-are-art and is well worth a look if you are into historical dramas. And even if you are not, the simply stunning acting of Colin Firth (which I didn't think was possible from him) should win you over.

I was quite lost for words; I think you will be too..

4/5 STARS - (*)(*)(*)(*) / (*)(*)(*)(*)(*)


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