Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Can I Say?


Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Carter and others
Rating: **** of 5 (4 of 5)
Pros: Strong human interaction makes the movie highly absorbing
Cons: An overstretched story that tests your patience

Winner of Best Motion Picture at the 2011 Academy Awards

The life of a British Monarch is seldom easy. But for Prince Albert (Colin Firth), the Duke of York, it wasn't all the stately affairs or royal appearances that made him wince - it was the thought of having to make a speech. Once the BBC launched its radio service to all of the United Kingdom and its Empire, speeches had to be made all over the world while sitting in a little room.

But the Prince's stammering was always his handicap - one that his wife tried incessantly to end. Eventually, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is the magician who, without any proper medical training, solves the soon-to-be King George VI's problems and is honoured in history. The story is a powerful narrative of human bonding, how Lionel establishes that key element through which, and only which, the King can be freed of his problems - trust. And when royalty is asked to trust the commons, the results can be intriguing.

The movie keeps the viewer engaged primarily because of the strong friendship that develops between the men, from the little home of Lionel to Westminster Abbey. British Royal Regalia is on full display as is British naivete ('Hitler will handle the reds'). The political linkages that the movie offers make for a delightful watch and Timothy Spall makes a fairly good impersonation of Winston Churchill.

However, the main problem with the movie is that its pace is so slow. It could have needed in just under an hour - i stretched on beyond an hour and a half. A lot of it could have been avoided but was not. In particular, the Queen (Helen Carter) played a poor role throughout the movie.

The costumes one would associate with modern British regalia were all there and the Palace was impeccably decorated - full marks to the costume and stage designers. The last moments of the movie were enjoyable as well as a relief, such was the extent to which it drained the viewer's patience.

Now, I'm of the opinion that most Oscar-winning movies are not worth it. Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker certainly were not. But what about The King's Speech? Again, my opinion still stands. It is a movie that is worth a watch, but don't expect another Titanic. (OTFS)

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