James Helsby

LRE #46: The King’s Speech

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
The King’s Speech

Release Year: 2010

Staring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

I just don’t get what all the praise is about. It wasn’t really that good of a movie.

Sure, I might piss off some people by saying that, but I am damn sure that this wasn’t the Best Motion Picture of the year (as the ‘Academy’ claims.) I just think that the Motion Picture Academy has a hard-on for pre-reconstruction Great Britain. Honestly, I don’t understand why. But the King’s Speech somehow walked away with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. None of that makes sense, with the exception of Colin Firth for best lead.

The King’s Speech, is the story of overcoming a speech impediment. Nothing more. It follows the then Duke of York, Prince Albert (known as ‘Bertie’ to his friends and family.) As his father, King George V (Michael Gambon) starts to ail in his old age, Bertie is called upon more and more to act as the voice of his father. Birtie’s brother, Edward (Prince of Wales, Guy Pierce) is the next rightful heir to the thrown, but personally doesn’t want the responsibility. Bertie, poses his own potential caveats to his public image. Namely, Bertie has suffered with a stammer for the majority of his life, and having entered into the age of radio, Bertie is now forced to do something about the problem, which he has tried to correct numerous times in his life.

The Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) Bertie’s wife, seeks out the help of Lionel Logue. Lionel is a speech therapist, whom practices some rather unusual methods of speech therapy. Bertie reluctantly agrees to the treatment, and works well with Lionel. But soon enough, King George V dies. The thrown is left to now King Edward the VIII. But Edward is embroiled in his own drama. Namely his love for a divorced American, Willis Simpson (Eve Best). Well, the rules and laws of the land will not allow them to marry, so Edward abdicates the thrown to Bertie. Bertie, now King George VI has no choice but to really step up his efforts to overcome his stammer.

And finally, when war comes to England (World War II), the King is called upon to make the most important speech of his life, but will his efforts be in vein?

It’s pretty much impossible to spoil a historically accurate biographical movie, so if I gave away a little much in the teaser, just get over it. The story is true, and if you didn’t read a history book, then shame. But The King’s Speech, really isn’t set up to be a biographical story. It’s more of a buddy movie; about how two people, one in ultimate power and one with none, can both swap places and learn to trust. Bertie, while having the power of the Kingdom behind him, feels that he is powerless simply because he has difficulties speaking. He recognizes the power the Lionel has, not only to help in his case, but just as a man who can communicate effectively.

I mentioned that The King’s Speech isn’t a good movie, and I will have to elaborate on that subject. You see, there wasn’t really any particular element of the film that stood out to me as fantastic, amazing, or even deserving of the praise. Think about it like this; did you ever watch Slumdog Millionaire? No? Well, a couple of years ago it was the Oscar darling. I watched it. It wasn’t good. A great number of people agreed with me on that fact. The film was very popular upon initial release, but quickly faded out of puplic favor. We the audience realized rather quickly that the Oscars were some what out of touch with what the normal man thinks a movie should be about.

The King’s Speech is what it is. Just a story. The art isn’t amazing, honestly. If you have ever been to England you know that it can be drab and dreery. But it can also be bright and vibrant. I don’t think that there was a single scene when the sun was shining during the entire film. Always enveloped in a haze, as if to say… “Look, were still in England. Can’t you Tell? ” But to continue on that thought, the drab continued within the doors of the palaces and houses. Always dull, and desaturated. This wasn’t reconstruction Great Britain. Largely, this is still Empire expansion great Britain. Well, you don’t get that feel. It feels more like you are in a state of urban collapse.

I can’t fault the acting. I guess I would say that Colin Firth deserved the award, but mainly because I don’t think any of the other competing actors deserved it more. Firth is a good actor, make no mistake. Honestly, the majority of the actors and actresses in the film did a great job. For once, Helena Bonham Carter was good in a part, that of the Queen. Later known as the ‘Queen Mum’ because she’s couldn’t hold the true title of Queen as having not been an heir to the throne. Gambon was acceptable as King George V. Geoffrey Rush was great as Lionel. Like I said, the down fall of the film isn’t in the acting.

It’s just the film. Perhaps it’s me, but I just felt like it was a story, and not a movie. There were these side tangents about Edward and Willis, which just seemed to be brushed over. Or small moments about how Bertie was potentially abused as a child. But they just get glossed over, in order to focus on the speech pattern of the King. Yes, we understand that he stammers. Yes, we understand that he is working hard to fix it, lest he bring embarrassment upon the throne. But other than those two things, there just isn’t any meat to the film.

To date, I have seen 6 of the 10 nominated best picture films (King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, with The kids are All Right, The Social Network, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone still unwatched). And at this point, my vote for the best film would lean towards The Fighter or Inception. Whether or not you agree with me, that is obviously your choice. It can be pretty hard to judge what other’s in blank audience would enjoy.

The King’s Speech is worth watching, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t that great, and I suggest you watch it not thinking of it as the Best Picture in 2010, but as just another biographical film. The content is pretty mild, but there is one scene of course language. That scene is crucial to the story, so try and not skip over it. But other than that, it’s a pretty family friendly film, although the subject might be above a child.

How painful was it: Meh, it really wasn’t anything to write home about. A decent enough movie.

Rating: 6/10. I don’t think that it really deserved the Academy Awards that it won.

The Wife’s Retort: Just another movie. I don’t get all the hub-bub.

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