Friday, December 17, 2010

The King's Speech

Colin Firth plays King George VI, and the film takes place in the late 1930’s leading up to World War II.  George is undergoing a lifelong personal struggle with a stutter.  But since he has just been anointed King, which will require significant public speaking, he and his wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter, enlist the aid of a speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush.
This film has all the ingredients of an Oscar Best Picture winner:  It’s a British period film, with go-to British period film stars Firth, Rush, and Carter.  It deals with an extraordinary man dealing with an ordinary problem.  It touches on World War II.  And it won the audience award at Toronto in September and has received magnificent buzz ever since, and just received the most Golden Globe nominations.  We might as well declare it the Best Picture winner, with Best Actor for Firth, and Best Supporting for Rush, and move on.  It's pretty much a sure thing.
I saw the film when it premiered in Toronto in September but haven’t had the opportunity to revisit it yet.  In my opinion, this is not one of the 10 best films of the year, but it certainly has its share of excellent, memorable moments.   The best scenes are surely the ones where Rush is employing nontraditional methods to improve the quality of the King’s speech.  They’re quite good.  But some of the film tends to drag on.  And Firth’s character is fairly unlikeable, so it’s hard to feel sympathy for his impediment.  I'd like to see it a second time now that it's received such rave reviews but for now I'm only going to give it a …
Grade:  B+  (But close to an A-)


  1. I just saw this film and think you may indeed need to revisit it. I wonder what Firth has done previously to have you not like him here. I say this only because I know of another person that said they just don't like him. I think he's been off my radar, in a way, until recent years and I really enjoy his work. This character is not unlikeable to me, nor do I think it needs to be more likeable. That would not make sense with just who it is and what they've been through, in my opinion. So I wonder if you are just accustomed to habitually liking the main character, as Hollywood likes to feed that to us on a regular basis?
    I couldn't imagine giving this film less than an A-, though it's an easy A in my book. I bet if Amy Adams had a role in it you'd give it an A+ ;)

    Still enjoying this blog. Thanks, mike

  2. Good comment Food-ie mike. I have actually seen it twice now and I'm sticking to my grade of B+ (but a high B+). I consider this grade a weighted average of A's for the scenes with Geoffrey Rush, who I think is fantastic, and B's for the scenes without him, which I think tend to drag a bit. Firth is good, but not great, and certainly not the best actor of the year. I think James Franco, Robert Duvall, and Jesse Eisenberg all easily have him beat. And no, I don't think one has to like a character to appreciate a film, but it certainly helps to like him in order to sympathize with his struggle. And I think someone in his position would be better off showing a little humility rather than indignation. Oh, and sure, adding Amy Adams never hurts! Looking forward to Leap Year 2!