(2010) director Tom Hooper
viewed: 02/26/11 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
As of last night, The King’s Speech has been officially voted “Best Picture” by the Academy, be-knighting it the most celebrated honor in American film awards.
And frankly, it’s a good movie. It’s solid, and it features several great performances, most notably perhaps that of Colin Firth as “Bertie”/King George VI, the stammering nobleman (who took home “Best Actor” from the Oscars as well). Geoffrey Rush, who plays his unorthodox speech therapist, was also great and nominated for “Best Supporting Actor”, as was Helena Bonham Carter who played the king’s dutiful, loving wife (“Best Supporting Actress” nominee.) Neither Rush nor Carter won, but the film also features a great small performance by Guy Pearce as the the king’s brother, which furthers my argument that Pearce seems to only appear in good movies, no matter how small the role.
The knock on The King’s Speech, if there is a valid one, is that it’s a pretty straight-forward affair, a period drama with a “feel good” story, with lots of good British actors and sensibility. Indeed, it is the kind of movie you go see with your folks or your in-laws or even your grandmother and everyone walks away feeling satisfied and cheery. And it is good. It’s just not sexy, daring, or anything too new. Not that a good film has to be those things.
The story of how an isolated royal figure overcomes a life-long disability by the work of a more “regular” British subject and their ensuing friendship is pepped up with drama, leading up to the British involvement in WWII, the abdication of the king’s older brother, and good old culture clash. Director Tom Hooper also took home an Oscar for directing (as is often the case when winning “Best Picture”, and he does a solid job with the material. Others have noted the annoying use of a fisheye lens, which gives a greater, rounded perspective on a shot, but creates a vertiginous sense of perspective, that Hooper employs a fair amount throughout the film. Luckily, this isn’t as overbearing as it reckons to be in the first 20 minutes of the film, and the rest of it moves along well.
I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a good movie. Maybe it’s just that now that I’m divorced (no in-laws) and the older generation of my family has passed away that the need to find films to see with the older segments of the family have faded from necessity. I wasn’t all that drawn to the film despite its strong reviews, but with it looming as the big Oscar-winner, I wanted to have first-hand knowledge of it, so I took it in. My mother was a big Colin Firth fan and I’m sure she would have loved this movie. And I think she would have been very happy for him to win his well-deserved Oscar for acting.