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Joseph’s Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.0/10
(4 reviews total)
The King’s Speech is one of those films that arrives at the end of the year and says, “please hand me an Oscar.” That’s not meant to be derisive of the movie, just that it has everything the Academy seems to love: an inspirational dialogue-heavy story with a difficult lead performance. 20 bucks says Colin Firth walks away with Best Actor this year.
The movie is a delightful look at George VI (Colin Firth), the Duke of York circa the 1920s who has an affliction most distressing to a public speaker – a stammer. Nobody seems able to help the frustrated man. The opening scene has him approach a microphone in front of thousands of people. He can’t defeat his stutter, and every syllabic mistake he makes is amplified many times over by the microphone.
His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) goes to Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech defects specialist whose methods are considered unconventional and odd, and asks for his help. George, or “Bertie” as his family calls him, is frustrated with his new therapist and his exercises at first, and they butt heads as some shuffling of the royal family is done and it becomes vitally important that his speaking be remedied. Will he overcome his stammer and keep his unlikely friendship with his mentor?
Of course he does. This is no surprise, and it isn’t a spoiler. Nobody’s going into this movie thinking the guy will still be stuttering at the end. The one true criticism of the film that people could hurl at it is that it’s rather predictable. For some that’s valid. However, as Roger Ebert says, it’s “not what the movie’s about, it’s how it’s about it.” We aren’t surprised by Bertie’s success at the end, but we are moved by it. Predictability becomes a bad thing when the other things about the movie suck: characterization, dialogue, acting, cinematography. Luckily, “Speech” doesn’t have that problem.
Its strongest assets are its script (primarily its dialogue) and Rush and Firth’s performances. A couple of standout scenes come to mind. One involves Lionel’s noting of how Bertie loses his stutter when he’s angry. He encourages the man to curse, loudly.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”
“Great!” Lionel says. “Do you know the ‘F word’?”
He does. It works. Later, as the King is making one of the most momental speeches of his reign, he’s being broadcasted to the whole of English rule over the radio, and as he does so Lionel stays in the room alone with him. When he’s about to trip over a word, Lionel mouths the obscenities back to him, a hilarious juxtaposition of filth and regality in such a serious address to the people.
One thing of note that some will consider an asset and others a liability is the film’s pacing. The movie takes its time with scenes and is slower than the average movie of today. As well it should be I would think; life was slower back in 1930 and I believe it was a sound decision to film it the same way. Some will find this refreshing, others will find it sluggish or boring. I must admit during a scene the film lost me and I found myself wondering about the events of the day. Aside from that though, I found it to be a good story and a good film.
The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by David Seidler
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah thought: “Supposedly, Geoffrey Rush was persuaded to be a part of The King’s Speech when the writers of the movie had a neighbor stick their script in Rush’s mailbox. The unconventional method got the actor to sign on. He is truly a treat to behold, likeable despite his flaws, and transcendent in what absolutely is a formulaic triumph story. This is Oscar bait at its finest, complete with melodramatic music to enhance just the right scenes. Despite the familiarity of the tale it is still entertaining and adeptly cast and paced.” Rating 7/10
Steven thought: “Compelling figures make for compelling drama. Compelling characters who feel ordinary make for award-worthy drama. The script that David Seidler assembled into “The King’s Speech” using purely research taps into a story that’s simply gold: a British monarch, whom we are accustomed to view as having an inherent infallibility, with a speech impediment that makes him seem just as human as any of us. Director Tom Hooper might be relatively new to the game, but he understands his film’s fundamental core — that we all have an impediment about which we are self-conscious, that plants seeds of self-doubt — and he seizes that empathy to create a universally delightful film.” Rating: 9/10
Simon thought: “It is rather awkward to critique a film that’s narrative (while boasting astonishingly superb performances) dot a screenplay as pedestrian as any made-for-TV production. If you could legitimately sum up a potential Best Picture winner’s plot synopsis in the sentence: “after his brother abdicates the thrown, the new king overcomes his speech defect through an untraditional speech therapist” what would you surmise? I picture a low-brow comedy featuring Frank Langella and Adam Sandler in the respective roles of student and mentor. “But, wait,” you cry, “This is a true story!” That it is and a considerably interesting one, but it is the thespians that make this film something special and not the exceedingly conventional story. The King’s Speech exhibits equal acting pedigree to its Best Picture rivals, though it boats little of the narrative heft. The King’s Speech for me ended suddenly and not in a satisfying way. I felt the film moving towards a narrative crescendo, but ultimately seemed to end mid note. It was rendered beautifully, but skipped more than a few of the necessary beats to make it a lasting classic.” Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.0/10