Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Great Performances Help Deliver "The King's Speech"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 35 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

The King’s Speech (2010)
Running time: 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – R for some language
DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper
WRITER: David Seidler
PRODUCERS: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin
EDITOR: Tariq Anwar
COMPOSER: Alexandre Desplat
Academy Award winner


Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall, Eve Best, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez, Dominic Applewhite, Calum Gittins, Ben Wimsett, and Claire Bloom

The King’s Speech isn’t just any British historical drama. After all, it won the Academy Award as “Best Picture” of 2010. I don’t think it is as good as some of the British costume or period dramas from Merchant Ivory Productions (like Howard’s End and Remains of the Day) or even Shakespeare in Love (another best picture Oscar winner). However, this film about a king with a stammer and the man who helps him overcome it is a really good movie that I heartily recommend to fans of historical dramas.

The film begins in 1925. Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) addresses a crowd, and his stammering speech clearly unsettles thousands of listeners. Known as “Bertie” to his wife, Elizabeth, Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter), and to his family, Prince Albert tries several unsuccessful treatments for his stammer and eventually gives finding a cure. The Duchess convinces Prince Albert to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an unorthodox Australian speech therapist living in London.

Logue’s pioneering treatment helps Albert, and the two men form an unlikely friendship. After Albert’s older brother, David, the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce), steps down as King, Albert becomes King George VI and relies on Lionel even more. As war with Germany looms, George VI will need Logue’s help to deliver the King’s speech to Great Britain and the British Empire, a radio address that will assure the people’s confidence in their still-new king.

Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, was primarily known for his work directing for television (including the Emmy-winning, HBO miniseries, John Adams). However, the visual style he uses for The King’s Speech gives the film the grand feel of a historical epic, while simultaneously capturing the intimacy necessary for a character drama. Hooper is aided and abetted by art direction that brings the royal existence of the 1920s and 1930s to vivid life.

As well directed as The King’s Speech is, the core of the movie rests on the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. This movie is essentially the tale of a troubled prince/king who is shown the way to victory by a curmudgeonly wizard, and, in that sense, Firth as the distressed royal and Rush as the stern but doting old mage are triumphant. I have been watching Firth for years, so I know that he is an excellent actor. Still, I almost totally believed that he was the sorely troubled King George VI, fighting a real stammer. What can I say about Rush other than that he is always good, but, as Logue, this is one of those performances that will be marked in his career as a peak in a great body of work.

Helena Bonham Carter is also quite good, making the most of her time on screen and even stealing a few scenes. Firth won an Oscar for his performance here, and Rush and Carter should have also won Oscars, although they did receive nominations. There is much to like about The King’s Speech, but this trio makes the film a classic among British historical dramas.

8 of 10

2011 Academy Awards: 4 wins: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin), “Best Achievement in Directing” (Tom Hooper), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Colin Firth), and “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” (David Seidler); 8 nominations: “Best Achievement in Art Direction” (Eve Stewart and Judy Farr), “Best Achievement in Cinematography” (Danny Cohen), “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Jenny Beavan), “Best Achievement in Editing” (Tariq Anwar), “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score” (Alexandre Desplat), “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, and John Midgley), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Geoffrey Rush), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Helena Bonham Carter)

2011 BAFTA Awards: 7 wins: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Gareth Unwin), “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Alexandre Desplat), “Best Actor” (Colin Firth), “Best Film” (Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin, and Iain Canning), “Best Screenplay-Original” (David Seidler), “Best Supporting Actor” (Geoffrey Rush), and “Best Supporting Actress” (Helena Bonham Carter); 7 nominations: “Best Cinematography” (Danny Cohen), “Best Costume Design” (Jenny Beavan), “Best Editing” (Tariq Anwar), “Best Make Up/Hair,” “Best Production Design” (Eve Stewart and Judy Farr), “Best Sound” (John Midgley-production mixer, Paul Hamblin-re-recording mixer, Martin Jensen-re-recording mixer, and Lee Walpole-supervising sound editor), and “David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction” (Tom Hooper)

2011 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Colin Firth); 6 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Tom Hooper), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Alexandre Desplat), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Geoffrey Rush), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Helena Bonham Carter), and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (David Seidler)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


No comments:

Post a Comment