Thursday, December 30, 2010

Movie Review: The King's Speech

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The last Friday in 2010 and there wasn't a single new release to any of the theaters in my area. There are the carry over films from Christmas but why not take the weekend when lots of people have time off to release something? Anything new would probably have claimed the top spot for the box office. So instead of a major release I went back looking for some of those more cinematic/art films that released in December to meet the deadline requirements for Oscar consideration. This will also keep them fresh in people's minds before the nominations to be announced bright and early on January 25, 2011. So since there were no Friday releases, I decided to go on Thursday hoping to avoid the altered bus holiday schedule AND get the extra Regal Theater bonus points for a Thursday viewing. BINGO! Movie plus bonus points pushed me over for a free movie ticket! Plus I'll get an extra 5 points down the road for seeing a cinema art film! Made more bonus points on this film than the regular points. Whoo Hoo!

My choice was The King's Speech. The movie released back on December 10. When I walked in for a 2pm show on a Thursday, there were already ten people in the theater. When the movie started it had gotten to the point where it was that uncomfortable time looking for seats because you know that either you'd have to ask someone to move or there wouldn't be that buffer seat between you and your neighbor and you'd have to share the armrest. Granted, it was one of the smaller theaters out of the 18 where I usually go but that says something about the quality of the film.

Colin Firth played Albert Frederick Arthur George, the second in the line of ascension to the throne of England. Being a royal he's caught between a rock and a hard place. The House of Windsor has duties and responsibilities to the people of England that "Bertie" as he is known must fulfill. The challenge is that he has an awful stammer which severely impedes him from those duties and responsibilities.

His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out help for Bertie from an Australian, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) a speech therapist. The meeting of the royalty and the commoner is a highlight throughout the movie. Here is a man who could be king receiving assistance from an everyman. Lionel sets the rules and many times Bertie objects. Lionel has to balance what he needs to accomplish while trying at the same time to respect, but not be swayed by the man in front of him. Rush presents a gentleman, a father, a husband someone who cares, a somewhat different picture from what we've been seeing him as on the big screen for the past few years as Captain Barbosa.

Firth really stands out in the title role. Portraying a man who is torn because he loves his country, his wife and family but has a giant wall placed in front of him because his mouth can't get the words out the way that he wants. You can see it in his eyes, you can see it in the body. As an actor, to be able to have the words flow is part of your craft and yet here Firth has to not only hold back the words but have the body respond to the those blocks.

After Bertie ascends to the throne of the King of England as George VI, England enters into World War II. It's up to Bertie to speak words of wisdom, authority and comfort to his countrymen and women. In the movie title, the word speech has a double meaning, not only communication by word of mouth, but the act of delivering a formal spoken communication to an audience. This is the moment that the movie hinges on.

I found myself laughing at the right times and at times with a lump in my throat, that's how compelling this movie turned out to be. The movie runs 118 minutes and has an R rating. I totally understand the need for the R as there were two scenes where Logue pushes Bertie to get him mad and have him start swearing to see where the the issues of the stammer may be occurring or to run an exercise to get the words out. The use of the F and the S words happen about two dozen times but they are not uttered against people just as vocal exercises. If it wasn't for that the movie probably would have received a G rating. Well, maybe not G since they were smoking cigarettes throughout.

There is a lot of buzz on this film for the Oscars. Suggestions for best picture, best actor (Firth) and supporting actor and actress (Rush and Bonham Carter) have been put forth. They are worthy of the nominations for Oscar and have already received a slew of nominations for the Golden Globes. I would also suggest that it is worthy of a viewing if playing at your neighborhood cinema.

The Movie Monkey

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