Tuesday, February 08, 2011

"The King's Speech" breaks into my top four

If you have ever seen the stand-up comedy of Eddie Izzard, you may be familiar with his description of British cinema.  He likens it to people arranging matchsticks for hours.  This isn't cinema for everyone, but often times it should be.  "The King's Speech" is a wonderful film that SHOULD be seen by everyone whether they want to or not.  If you are an actor, you need to see the film as a study on how it's done.  Never has a movie about two guys sitting around chatting been so compelling, so heart-warming, and darn right entertaining.

Colin Firth has already received many awards for his turn as King George the Sixth and I am sure glad I got to see why.  He plays a man who has had trouble with stuttering from a young age.  As he has grown older, he is confronted more and more with his need to speak in public.  As you can imagine, anyone who is supposed to project a strong leadership image doesn't want to stutter horribly through a public speech.  So his wife, played wonderfully by Helena Bonham Carter, hires a speech therapist.  Geoffrey Rush plays the therapist as a person who loves the prose of Shakespeare, doesn't care about formalities, and is a generally good natured man whom you just want to go to the pub for a beer with sometime.

Firth and Rush play off of each other so well that I was not only begging for the movie to be longer, I have decided I want them to be in every film together.  They had such a wonderful chemistry on screen.  They played off of each other so well that the bond that formed between them throughout the course of the film was felt with honesty and truth.  I never once felt cheated and pulled out of the performance by an actor misstep or a choice I didn't agree with.  I never had that opportunity because I was so delighted by what was happening I was completely absorbed into the film.  All of the supporting cast do a wonderful job as well.  In fact, it was kind of a Harry Potter reunion as far as cast members were concerned.  But in the end, it is the overwhelmingly strong performances by Firth and Rush that make this movie what it is.  They deserve all the awards that they have received and WILL receive in the future.

At it's core, this was a buddy film.  It was put in a fancy British wrapper, but it was still a buddy film.  I have really come to like them as of late.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it is because I am really aware of how much my friends mean to me.  Maybe it is just because the appeal of a story about two people from different walks of life meeting in strange circumstances and having much more in common than one would have thought is really powerful for me.  I often feel that there are people who should hang out that never really would have unless somehow provoked.  I have seen it happen in my life and I love that it does.  I guess I'm not sure why.  It was this theme that really resonated with me over all others.

There has been lots of controversy about the Weinsteins releasing an edited version of the film without the swearing.  If you have not watched this movie yet, there are two scenes of mild swearing that landed this movie an R.  Sure there are some fucks...well a lot of them.  However I have never really seen swear words actually mean something to what was happening.  I feel like they are an integral part of the storytelling and these scenes would be missed if removed.  The director has refused to reshoot the scenes differently so the scenes would indeed have to be cut to get the rating lowered.  I say let's rethink what our rating system is doing and change that instead.  It is really a crime that someone under 17, who has heard all of these words and worse in a much more dirty setting, wont be let in to see this movie if they chose to.

The only grip that I would have is the silly framing that was often used.  You aren't making a movie better by framing up the subjects in a weird fashion.  Many times, during normal dialogue, one of the characters would be framed on the far left of the screen.  They would be looking to the right and next to them was nothing but a blank wall.  The wall then takes up most of the frame.  Why do this?  It makes the movie look fake art house.  Like they are trying far too hard to make it hip and stylish.  It wasn't needed.  Stop it.  That is really my only gripe, though.  And it was a directors note, not anything else.

All of this means one thing, this movie was amazing.  I loved it.  It has officially joined my top movies of the year.  There are now four movies that I wouldn't mind if they won best picture.  Is this the best?  *sigh*  Please don't make me answer that.  I really liked it.  It had its faults, which they all do, but it was almost flawless.  Do try and see this amazing movie where they make arranging matchsticks interesting again.

9 out of 10 stars


Dakotakid said...

I gave been on the fence about whether or not I was going to see this one. However after your review I think I am going to give it a shot.

Jason said...

Excellent review Nate. As usual, you have raised my theatrical awareness and therefore my general enjoyment of films whose inner metaphors deserve to be distinguished and recognized. I'll see this movie now. You should really consider forwarding your reviews to established publications. Yours stand with, or above, any I've read...mostly above.., almost on.

Christopher T. said...

Nate, I loved the movie, too, for most of the same reasons you did. I don't agree that it's a movie for everybody (or that everybody should HAVE to watch it) but it's a damn good movie for those of us who do!