Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The King's Speech

Sharks, heights, snakes and even death itself – These are but a  few of man's greatest fears. But there's one fear that, according to statistics, outweighs the severity of almost all these fears combined, namely man's fear of... public speaking. Whilst it might sound like a boring subject for a film, it is used as the central premise to one of this year's biggest Oscar contenders, 'The King's speech'. And not only does it make for a original and refreshingly accessible period drama, but it's also just a fresh concept for a film in general, making it stand out in the crowd of best film contenders.

To complement this enticing concept, comes assembled a capable cast of dramatic heavyweights, all more than capable to steer this dramatic masterpiece to an emotional and fulfilling conclusion. Leading the way is the stammering and troubled King George VI, played by Colin Firth (A single man, Dorian Gray), delivering arguably the role of his lifetime, a fact substantiated by the number of award mentions he has received for this role. Not only is Firth totally believable in the extremely complex role he plays, but he also manages to imbue his character with an impressive level of sentiment and humanity, resulting in an accessible protagonist that you can't help but feel for. 


Geoffrey Rush's (Pirates of the Caribbean, Munich) performance deserves an equal amount of praise, fulfilling both the role of friend and antagonist simultaneously with utmost skill. I should also add that Rush and Firth's combined performances produce the best movie 'bromance' in years, as both characters are in a sense reshaped by the interactions they have with one another during the course of this splendid film. And not only is this development entertaining to watch unfold, but it also never reverts to over-dramatization, a weakness of many a few period films. 

"...Rush and Firth's combined performances produce the best movie 'bromance' in years, as both characters are in a sense reshaped by the interactions they have with one another during the course of this splendid film."

Rounding off the capable cast is Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter) in a role that has also resulted in more than a few award mentions and Guy Pearce (The hurt lockers, Memento) in a role that will at first seem very foreign for him, but still one he manages to play surprisingly well. Other worthy mentions joining Carter from the cast of Harry Potter are Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon, as well as a long list of other seasoned veterans, whom all contribute to a powerful sense of legitimacy for the film. The film's super intelligent dialogue must also be mentioned in the same breath, as all the performances benefit from the sharp and fitting verbal material.

But good acting and brilliant dialogue is just part of the film's winning recipe: A beautiful collection of classical arrangements makes for a fitting and effective score, whilst the striking cinematography captures the heart and soul of the finely planned set pieces and also contributes greatly to some of the movies most awkward and powerful moments. King's Speech is also inspiringly well paced, as scenes that need time to flutter in one's mind are given ample opportunity and those that only serve to move the plot along are functionally brief.

The film's biggest achievement is however the way in which all these elements come together, something that Director Tom Hooper (The Damned United) should be commended for. The King's Speech really feels like a neatly packaged and well rounded film experience, a challenging feat that only very capable film-makers can accomplish with such finesse.

To sum up, 'The King's Speech' is a well made, extremely accessible, relatable, relevant and touching period piece that will lead to many mainstream audience members gaining a new appreciation for a genre that has always seemed reserved for those few that are really serious about their films – highly recommended. 

Highlight: After a few sessions with Rush, Firth finally opens up to the dear 'doctor'...

There's a good reason why Firth looks so tense here... and no, it's not wind.
Rating: 5 Meerkat Tails