Saturday, 22 January 2011
Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by David Seidler
Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Release date(s) Out Now
Running time 118 minutes
The King's Speech tells the story of Australian therapist Lionel Logue who tries to help King George the VI conquer his stutter at a time when the country badly needs an inspiring leader. Colin Firth stars as the aforementioned king, while Geoffrey Rush takes on the role of Logue.
A typical Oscar movie on the surface, the King's Speech is at heart a buddy picture with a regal twist. Logue and George play the proverbial odd couple, a fastidious and repressed King intellectually jousting with a brash common person from "the colonies". The film also offers a nostalgic and patriotic look at Britain in war time, drawing parallels between the King's triumph against adversity and the nation's own stoicism during the war.
Indeed the overall production is slick and stylish throughout, with finely honed cinematography doing wonders to bring alive early 20th century Britain, and impressive work done on the set and costumes in order to create the appropriate sense of place.
The real selling point of this film, though, is the acting, particularly with the two stars of the film. Geoffrey Rush is always excellent to watch and seemingly never puts in a bad shift. He doesn't disappoint here and gives a memorably funny and enthusiastic performance here.
But of course the main billing goes to Colin Firth, who has produced something of a masterful performance here. This is a difficult role for any actor, internalizing the tension and angst whilst maintaing a stiff upper lip façcade, and Firth absolutely nails it. This is a personal and nuanced performance, and one which makes Firth a safe bet to finally collect his Oscar.
Special note deserves to be made for the rest of this impressive cast as well, which includes Helena Bonham Carter in her best performance to date as the Queen mother, as well as the likes of Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon and Timothy Spall. It's a fine ensemble cast.
So it's a slick production, wonderfully acted and well scripted. Really there is little at all to fault with this film. But this is the problem; it's finely polished and honed and a perfected craft, but that's exactly what we expected. There is little here that is fresh or original or daring, it's just all so predictable. It's a small complaint to have, but it's clear that no one here has tried to reinvent the wheel, but rather just produce a very fine and polished wheel indeed.
From the first scene onwards, it's clear that the King's Speech is set to be a contender at this year's Oscars, but will it's lack of ambition mar what is otherwise a thoroughly entertaining and fine production?
Picture perfect production