Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flick of The Day: The King's Speech

I was initially wary of seeing this film, even though it has been nominated for 12 Oscars, mainly because it struck me as another one of those film's which keep the British film industry alive, being as it is the sick man of European cinema. It ticks all the boxes of such a film. Historical? Check. The Royal Family? Check. Classically trained actors in all the major roles? Check. Its got Jacobi and Gambon!
However, I was drawn to see it, based on word of mouth regarding the performance of Colin Firth as King George VI, Bertie to his friends and the King of the title. In a deeply affecting performance, he manages to capture the fear and frustration of those with a speech impediment. Watching him struggle to simply form sentences is difficult, for is speech not one of the fundamental abilities that makes humans as we are?
When we eventually get to the root of Bertie's ailment, you can only come to the conclusion that he suffered a very terrible childhood. The kind you would not wish on anyone and that it made him the flawed adult he was.
In one scene, he finds peace in simply making model aeroplanes, something he was forbidden to do as a child.
Firth is the main reason to see this movie but he is not the only reason. As I've said, there are fine actors scattered throughout. Helena Bonham Carter has great fun with the role of Bertie's wife and Geoffrey Rush brings his natural charm to the role of the speech therapist. He believes quite deeply that a speech impediment is something that can be overcome. through his unorthodox methods.
The film is to my knowledge largely historically accurate, though the idea of Guy Pearce as Colin Firth's older brother is laughable. The only criticism that might be levelled at the film is the implication that appeasement was only practiced by Neville Chamberlain and Edward VIII. It was a widespread view, particularly in the Royal Family. Winston Churchill was very much the outsider.
All in all, I enjoyed this film, though I don't feel it will be remembered as one of the great achievement's in cinema but Colin Firth's performance stands alone as one of the finest of the year. I hope he wins.

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