Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The King's Speech

(Note: I saw this film on January 4th. That's how long it took me to get off my ass and write the damn review.)

So, so many people had been praising The King's Speech, that I was a little worried that it had been over-hyped.

It wasn't.

Prince Albert (Colin Firth) is the second son of King George V of England (Michael Gambon). His brother, (Holy-Crap-That-Was Guy Pearce?), is first in line to the throne.

In Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), Albert has a wonderful, loving, caring wife. She wants him to be happy, and she knows that while keeping silent forever would make him feel less conspicuous, it won't make him happy. She seeks out the help of a speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), to cure that which other therapists and doctors have been unable.

It all seemed so simple. Albert would be able to continue with his official duties all while building his self-esteem and being the man he knew he could be. That is, until the king dies and Edward ascends to the throne. It's clear that his heart is not in the monarchy - it belongs to an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson - and he soon abdicates the throne.

Albert is to become King George VI, and is absolutely petrified.

There was not a weak link in this film. Every actor was pitch-perfect and wonderfully cast. The script moved along at a leisurely pace, and while the film dragged a bit in the center, it quickly picked up speed as Albert neared his coronation.

It wasn't until World War II broke out that the new King was thrust upon the world stage, and most importantly, must appear as a strong leader of the British people. He knew that he would be viewed as a joke if he were unable to deliver such an important speech at such an important time, and he rose to the occasion. Listening to the actual speech now, and recalling Colin Firth's performance, the continuity is absolutely amazing.

The entire film was building up to that final, perfect scene, and it did not disappoint. The King's Speech was one of the best films I have seen in years, and I am thrilled that it won the Best Picture Oscar.

There were, of course, a large number of people who thought that the Best Picture should have been awarded elsewhere, and while I agree that there were many amazing films up for the top prize, The King's Speech is absolutely timeless. It is just the kind of film that Oscar voters like, but it will also stand the test of time. I can't say the same for The Social Network.

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