Saturday, 8 January 2011

REVIEW: The King's Speech

Firth about to drop some sick beats.

Not too many people are going to criticise The King's Speech, and nor should they. But I submit that the King's Speech is the best kind of pedestrian film-making that is possible, that lets the subject matter do the work for it and allows its sheen and gloss to make you think a hollow experience is a meaningful one. If Oscar-bait were a movie genre, it would be as cliched as the worst romantic comedy, right down to the cynical ways it repeatedly forces tension into the central relationship for no other reason then because. The King's Speech would be as white-bread if it were made in 1935 as if it were made now, and I think it was in a way very awkward film how it broached royalty and the character, a little too respectful to do anything of real value. Yet Oscar-bait is a genre that will last forever because despite all that. You've got the performances. As you always do, standing there almost nullifying any criticisms you can have about these things. Oh well.

And its because I think this film has its problems that I think all the actors are deserving of all their awards attention and more. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush both pretty much elevate their material with their presence, and while this is hardly a stretch for either - It seems Firth has played the stiff upper lip with a secret sensitive side for his entire career - and Rush well he's just playing the most likeable mentor in the world, a dude almost angelic in his busting of chops and ability to empathize with Firth and become a surrogate father figure. The role is basically are more layered Alfred The Butler, but Rush seems to somehow exceed being excellent in it. He's both funny and capable of great pathos and despite the story not being about him at all, I'd say he walks away with it. Its one of those performances of such warmth that only great actors can give, because otherwise it would just appear insipid. Firth is typically great, and although his work is less impressive then in last year's A Single Man, if he wins an Oscar I'll be fine with it. The movie also uses Helena Bonham Carter as a secret weapon, sure she's the supportive wife when she needs to be, but by bringing her in every now and again to K.O a joke , it makes this the most hilarious rendition of the Qieen Mother on celluloid, and another moment of awesomeness for Ms, HBC. Shout out too to Guy Pearce in a marginalized role.

But one can't begin so scathing and then comprehensively praise, so in the face of the tornado of positive praise, here I go. The King's Speech is deeply formulaic, to the point where it became noticeable. If it were dealing with less worthy subject matter, this would pounced on and devoured, but no, its importance gets it a pass. It may be an instance of execution overcoming intent, and the final product has painted over enough of the cracks to get by, and it certainly has a strong as balls ending, owing an hefty assist to Beethoven, but I don't know. It felt much more bare bones then it needed to be, and while I fully accept the need to dicuss duty in films about the royals, I tire of their lionization, of the acension of duty as a value rather then the subject, and I felt it was too easy to make David the villain merely because he didn't share the same values. Oh well. Its still an exemplary showcase for great acting, and has more then one moment of rousing awesomeness. I'm just not sure it warrants the adoration it demands. Or maybe I shouldn't write these reviews on my phone as I run from the police. Who knows.

Rating: 7/10

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