TAKE TWO: The King’s Speech (2010)

11 Jan

The King’s Speech

Rated: R

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce

Director: Tom Hooper

Chris’ Take: The King’s Speech is a film I kept trying to see before I wrote my Top Ten of 2010 list. The preview was engaging and there was so much buzz about it, but it didn’t come to a theater near me until I was out of town. Upon viewing, this would definitely make the Top Ten, if not the Top Five of the best films of last year.

In the years leading up to World War II, Prince Albert (Colin Firth), the second son of King George V, is constantly in the public spotlight, which proves even more daunting due to his incessant stammer. At the urging of his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), he sees a speech defect specialist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Lionel’s eccentric methods are too much for Albert at first, but after his father’s death and his brother’s defection from the throne, he is thrust into the kingship and must rely on Lionel’s tutelage to instill confidence in him, so that he in turn can inspire and reassure his people, who are on the brink of war with Germany.

The King’s Speech easily had one of the best scripts of 2010, and director Tom Hooper used that to his advantage in setting the perfect pace of the film. It balanced between Lionel and Albert’s sessions and the drama ensuing in Albert’s personal life. While the film could have easily gotten bogged down with the amount of dialogue, it managed to keep the timing and delivery snappy, witty, intriguing and sincere. One of the parts of the story that I really liked, was how the film hinted as to why Elizabeth grew to love Albert, who was almost completely lacking in self-confidence, showing moments of touching humor between them, and his general warmth toward those that he loved.

The cinematography was subtle, but strong, many times focusing on Colin Firth’s face, then the intimidating microphone, while blurring out the background, so that the pressure he was under could really be felt.

But, it did not keep the cinematography close at all times, usually only when he was speaking, allowing the viewer a reprieve from the stress. This allowed for a more enjoyable experience overall, compared to other films that have attempted the same technique this year, such as Black Swan and Let Me In, which were more intended to create dread, paranoia and claustrophobia for extended periods of time.

Now, we come to the acting. The King’s Speech contained so many great performances, especially from its lead, Colin Firth, who managed the stammer, peppered with fits of rage, extremely well. Geoffrey Rush, a great character actor to begin with, was able to masterfully work in playful eccentricities with Lionel and balance that out with moments of perceptive insight. Helena Bonham Carter returns to her earlier acting days by playing the most normal character she has been in the last 10 – 15 years and she played the part of loving and supportive wife very well.

Just a sampling of Helena Bonham Carter's more recent roles.

The interactions between the characters were so delightful and engaging, further proving all the buzz about the film.

Did this film need to be seen in the theater? Probably not, but it was still very enjoyable and worth the money spent on seeing it. I am sure we will be hearing more about this one as we get closer to the Golden Globe Awards, and a little later at the Oscars. I sincerely hope that Firth and Rush come away with some wins somewhere down the line, and that the superb script also gets the high recognition that it deserves.

  • Characters: A
  • Cinematography: A-
  • Directing: A
  • Plot: A
  • Performances: A+
  • Overall: A

Pac’s Take: 

With the Academy Awards nominations pool for best picture expanding to a daunting list of ten nominees, there is a lot of competition for the Best Picture award.  Inception will serve as this year’s Avatar and be the blockbuster hit the majority of the viewing public expects to win, mostly because it was one of the few films on the list they saw.  However, if my vote counted I would undoubtably vote for The King’s Speech to take home the award (granted I have yet to see a few of these films as well).  It is a rare gem in cinema these days to see a film that strips itself of everything shiny that attracts a passerby audience and relies solely on a captivating story and in-depth characterization.  The King’s Speech did just that and executed it to flawless perfection.  A single miscue in pacing, casting, or cinematography could have cracked the porcelain finish of this film, but director Tom Hooper handled everything with care and delivered a great film.

Chris touched on this briefly in his review, but an important aspect of the film to note was the cinematography.  Two other films I saw this year, Black Swan and Let Me In, relied heavily on close-ups and tight shots throughout the film to deliver a sense anxiety and/or claustrophobia.  The King’s Speech could have very easily continued this trend as very much of the film depended on the audience connecting with the anxiety Prince Albert (Colin Firth) had about public speaking and how he directed that anxiety intrinsically.  This concept was not only a major part of the Prince’s characterization but also a driving plot device as pensiveness was holding him back from recovery.  Despite that,  Hooper limited the close-ups and tight shots to sporadic use allowing the audience reprieve from Albert’s tightly wound emotions.  After exiting the theater I still felt completely connected to the character and his story but wasn’t grasping for air because I finally left a theater that felt three feet wide.

Mr. Reynolds, please refrain from cell phone use while in the independent theater. Thank You

 The acting in this film was superb, especially Colin Firth who undertook what appeared to be a very complex character with physical complications.  As a viewer, to recognize the depth and difficulty in the role but also acknowledge the ease in which it seemed Firth executed it speaks volumes to the performance.  Geoffrey Rush’s performance was brilliant in its own right and the chemistry between the two actors maintained the pace and pleasantry of a dialogue driven film.  Helena Bonham Carter delivered a subtle performance, likely to not garner an oscar, but it was pleasant to see her tone it down a bit.

I wish I could amend my favorite films of 2010 list to include The King’s Speech as it would have landed somewhere in the top 3.  Here are my grades (sorry for the lack of disparity between Chris and I):

  • Characters: A
  • Cinematography: A-
  • Directing: A
  • Plot: A
  • Performances: A+
  • Overall: A
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3 Responses to “TAKE TWO: The King’s Speech (2010)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. TAKE TWO: The King’s Speech (2010) (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) | The Calculable - January 12, 2011

    […] TAKE TWO: The King’s Speech (2010) (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) Posted on 12 January, 2011 by Jarle Petterson The King’s Speech Rated: R Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce Director: Tom Hooper Chris’ Take: The King’s Speech is a film I kept trying to see before I wrote my Top Ten of 2010 list. The preview was engaging and there was so much buzz about it, but it didn’t come to a theater near me until I was out of town. Upon viewing, this would definitely make the Top Ten, if not the Top Five of the best films of last ye … Read More […]

  2. Colin Firth Explains Why the Story Behind “The King’s Speech” on The Daily Show « Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood - January 14, 2011

    […] TAKE TWO: The King’s Speech (2010) Archives […]

  3. New to Blu-Ray/DVD this week (April 19, 2011) « Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood - April 19, 2011

    […] Though there isn’t much else needed to say, we still managed to think of a few things in our Take Two of The King’s […]

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