I have been wanting to see this film for a looong time. Even moreso after the Oscars. Unfortunately I have gotten WAY behind on my movies, which is ironic really, as you’d think I’d have seen everything considering I work at the cinemas…which used to be the case, but sadly not anymore. I’ve been feeling like I’m at work all the time these past few months and so when I do eventually get my two days off I stay well away from the place!! I try to catch a film occassionally after work but similarly, once I’m done at work I tend to just wanna get the hell outta there!!
Today I made a special trip out to Rialto Cinemas in Newmarket to catch this film as it has finished its run at Queen Street (where I work, for those of you who do not know). I am SO GLAD I made the trip. The King’s Speech is absolutely brilliant. I have watched many films and because I have a very eclectic and “mainstream” taste in films, I am easy to please and tend to enjoy most films I see.
I can safely say though that The King’s Speech is not only a film I am deeming one of the best films I have ever seen (in a long time), but also one I am unlikely to forget. As I mentioned just before, I rarely ever dislike any movie I see, but very few actually truly captivate and move me. The King’s Speech did just that. It held my attention from start to finish. It is certainly deserved of the four Oscars it won – every single cateogry – and I think this film could very well go down in British film history, in my VERY humble opinion.
For those of you who do not know the premise, in a nutshell: English period drama set a few years before World War II. King George VI (played brilliantly by Colin Firth) struggles from a crippling speech impediment but has to learn how to overcome it when he is suddenly made King following the death of his father, and following his older brother turning his back on the throne. He seeks help from Lionel Logue, an unorthodox Australian speech therapist (played comically by Geoffrey Rush).
Director Tom Hooper does a remarkable job at telling this story. Very impressed especially considering he has done only mostly TV directing prior to this. The sets and locations used are amazing – you really get that sense of history and place, and the attention to detail really gave the film depth; in that two hours I was completely immersed in that world of the past, I really felt like I had gone back in time. Casting was absolutely spot on – I have to mention that I was mighty pleased that there were 3 Harry Potter actors in the film! Colin Firth embodied the character of King George VI perfectly; simply stunning performance, he definitely deserved that Oscar! I was completely convinced that his stammering was for real – AMAZING. Geoffrey Rush’s character provided just enough comic relief and I liked that Firth’s character’s sarcastic sense of humor played off very nicely against Rush’s playful jibes. Although I can’t say much for his Aussie accent – and he’s actually Aussie!
Perhaps the most fantastic thing about the film was how the director used certain shots/camera angles and also the sets to portray King George’s sense of constriction when he stammered. Of course this was conveyed excellently through Firth’s facial expressions and body language (vulnerable posture, fear-stricken eyes, throat constricting – it’s ridiculous how real it all looked – Colin Firth, you are a master at your art!) which Hooper further heightened through many close up shots of Firth from the shoulder up. Eyes are really a window to a person’s soul and I felt that these close ups of Firth really helped the audience connect with the character. This “invasion of personal space” by being so up close – which ironically you cannot do to a King, as Rush’s character points out when they first meet – really allows you to feel his fear and experience his struggles firsthand.
Majority of the film was shot indoors, most of it noticeably being of long corridors and rooms that were small spaces. Visually this effectively accentuated that feeling of entrapment and also I felt was intended to mirror the King’s tightness of his throat whenever he tried to speak. Additionally I also noticed that many of the scenes were long and drawn out, taking awhile to reveal its point to the audience – this could also reflect the King and the time he takes to get a sentence out. But this could be just me reading a wee bit too much into it – can’t help it, having studied film it’s almost second nature for me to always take note of the cinematography in a film and want to dissect it and pull any “hidden meaning” from it.
The writing was impeccable – yet another deserved win at the Oscars. As I mentioned earlier the humor is witty and just the right amount, and most importantly, perfectly placed. Being a drama obviously you want to tread carefully if wanting to insert any form of comedy or humor. I felt that the humor used in this film was not so much because the director intended to give the audience a few laughs, but to give more depth and humanity to the characters, especially to King George. Any person of royal blood – and no less British royalty – is often stereotyped as boring, stuffy and very “mechanical”. Portraying a King that stammers, is fearful and gets angry shows that royalty are still human, however I believe showing the audience that he has a sense of humor has a greater impact as it reveals more character.
I could go on some more about this film but I think I will stop here! In short, this film – again, in my humble opinion – is GREAT on so many levels and is definitely a must-see for anyone who appreciates a good film.
Whimsical Banana rates The King’s Speech: 5/5 bananas!