Sunday, December 19, 2010

The King's Speech

The Flick: The King's Speech

The Actors: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce, Eve Best, Anthony Andrews, Timothy Spall.

The Dealio: After decades of being regarded as the son with no possibility to inherit the throne- and something of an embarrassment, due to his stutter- "Bertie" assumes the throne of England (very reluctantly, and with the utmost dread) upon his older brother-David's- abdication. Cue "The Woman I Love" speech, which always struck me as being ever so slightly self-indulgent and selfish. Did I say that out loud? My bad.
This is a story with something for everybody. For those Anglophiles, glom on to loads of minutae about the Brit monarchy and richly textured bits and pieces about the jealousies, insecurities, indulgences, and unspeakable-literally-histories of the royals. The entire situation unfolds, very rapidly, at the knife's-edge of WWII. I also like the slyness of the title. Very well done, indeed.

The Grading Session: 5.27 pengies out of 5. If this movie was only enjoyable because of the intriguing-and true- story, that would be plenty. But there is so much more here- not the least of which is the sumptuous joy of seeing Firth and Ehle together on the same screen, where once they caught fire as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.But there is so much more here: the complexities of the post-Victorian British royal family, the push and pull of heart-felt emotions and what the law would permit (most definitely NOT marriage of the next king of England to a twice divorced American!). And, has Rush ever played a boring character?
This movie was a delight from start to finish- wry and sweet, touching on the bonds- and strife- of father and son, the tenterhooks of class distinction and the tenderness of parental- and spousal- love. The casting was absolutely spot on from start to finish- I especially appreciated the great attention to detail in the casting of the children. Wondrous!

Lessons Learned: First that yelling at someone does not necessarily help cure a stutter...but that, oddly, the stutterer yelling-even cussing- at someone- does help minimise the stammer. Next: that I would not have enjoyed life in the limelight of the run-up to WWII. At. All. Lastly: that it is possible to be a loving parent and an excellent king- although, apparently, few have tried both. Lastly: it is touching and yet oddly encouraging to see a man of action, a potential king, feeling uncertain and questioning his ability to lead- even as he steps into the breach and manages to calm a country and lead them with the energy and resolve most people never felt confident he even possessed. Stay calm and carry on; this was the message and it was gorgeously conveyed in this film. You should see this.

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