Posted on 4/30/11 08:45 AM
This is a great film. It should not, however, have won Best Picture. Whereas The Social Network presented a new, important look at the world today, and was filled with great acting, had a great screenplay, and is the masterwork of one of today's greatest directors, The King's Speech is a conservative film featuring only three truly great elements: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and David Seidler's screenplay. It should not have won Best Director, for example; David Fincher rightly deserved that. Just because its success went further than I think it deserves, however, does not discount this film in the least. It is still a very strong, if somewhat conservative, period piece with great acting and a great screenplay.
There is no limit to the number of superlatives that Colin Firth's performance has received, and each is rightly deserved. His performance as the stuttering, stammering Prince Albert, later King George VI of England, was remarkable, exceptional, extraordinary. I could go on all day with superlatives about his performance, but that's what everyone else has already done, so I'll leave it be. After all, winning the Oscar generally certifies the fact that you're an exceptional actor, unless your name is Nicolas Cage. Colin Firth deserves all the recognition he has received, and will receive, for his performance, which was vital to the success of this film.
A great surprise in this movie was Geoffrey Rush, who portrayed the speech therapist Lionel Logue with great enthusiasm and talent. His portrayal served as a great way to ground the film and the audience's view of the main character, as well as providing a bit of comic relief at points and generally making the film more enjoyable. Until I saw The Fighter, I was sure that he deserved the Oscar. However, Christian Bale's performance also deserved praise, so Geoffrey Rush should be contented with the fact that his performance can also have a plethora of superlatives attached to it.
The true core of this movie wasn't the King overcoming his stammer, which he didn't fully do anyway; it was the relationship between the King and Lionel. There are three people who deserve credit for that, and they aren't the triangle of man-love (Firth, Rush, and Hooper). They are Firth, Rush, and screenwriter David Seidler. Seidler's script was full of witty dialogue for Logue, plenty of room for Colin Firth to get emotional and stutter in, and focused in on the relationship between Logue and the King. It is that relationship which drives the movie forward, and makes the King much more relatable, personable, and pitiful at the same time. Without this screenplay, this film wouldn't have even remotely close to the film it is. It also wouldn't have been rated R, but that scene was definitely worth it.
There are other notes of merit for this film, of course. While I don't believe that Tom Hooper should have won the Oscar for Best Director, he was very capable in his role for this film. While I would've liked him to try to lower the conservative tone of this film (even with the swearing), he is obviously very capable of taking a film like this and making it the best he can, and for that, he deserves praise. I also thought that the costumes and production were very nice; while the cinematography was lacking a bit, this film still looked the part nicely. I also enjoyed Alexandre Desplat's score, which was both pleasing to the ear and fitting to the film. Finally, I enjoyed Guy Pearce's small role as Edward VII, even if his character was rather despisable.
All in all, The King's Speech is a great film, even though I believe its praise has gone too far. Combining superb lead acting, great supporting acting, and a wonderful screenplay, this film is a near-perfect historical drama.
Lead acting: 20/20 (I'd give it more if I could)
Supporting acting: 15/15