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The King’s Speech is one of those films where audience enthusiasm develops a rather inexplicable dynamic: scenes of applause when the end credits roll around the world, repeated viewings, strong attendance of non-cinema-goers… it’s what made films like “Not without my daughter” or “Schindler’s  List” the huge box office successes that they were – a success that did not necessarily have to do with the respective qualities as a movie. The King’s Speech does have a lot of qualities, however, there is no doubt about it. It is coherently structured, with all the elements required for highly emotional drama. The build-up to the final speech is well directed, a thrilling countdown. The stakes are high, if he fails, the world seems to be at risk. Hm, well…. No. Maybe here is the issue I have with the film: I do not believe those stakes. Maybe because I lack the details of the role he played historically, maybe because I do not care about the historical facts in the context of a movie as a work of fiction, I never got involved in the drama. What is the importance of this radio speech beyond a complicated person overcoming his personal demons and troubles? Nobody explained to me why history would have played out differently had he stammered more. So the historical gravitas did not exist for me, throwing me back on the personal drama. This is very well done and extremely well played, with Colin Firth playing straight for the Academy (disability = Oscar guarantee, does that still work?), but also Helena Bonham Carter not being a nuisance for a change and the old pirate from that terrible Johnny Depp vehicle as a worthy counterpart (why it seems to be so clear that Colin Forth has the only lead role in this film eludes me, by the way)… ah right: the excellent Geoffrey Rush!

All in all, the film is a solid bit of entertainment, a bit too perfectly made, a bit too professionally designed, a bit too streamlined and a bit much lacking originality. Sometimes (as in the build-up to the finale), I felt the timing was slightly off, however. And what actually annoyed me was when very early on, the speech therapist and His Royal Highness start to systematically work on his speaking abilities – and there comes an odd “Rocky” moment, when a montage of all the training and practice methods shows their progress. Since “Team America:  World Police”, thou shalt not do that anymore, really – it exposed the simplistic mechanics of these montages with the Oscar-worthy song “Montage” and the world of montage has never been the same. Solid entertainment for the whole royal family, but a tad overrated as a piece of art.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_kings_speech/

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4 Comments

  1. Without a piece of 80s pop music montages simply don’t work! Joking aside, I thought The King’s Speech was excellent. Firth’s finest performance.

  2. I just can’t get the Team America song out of my head… no doubt about Firth, he deserves whatever awards he gets. Two years in a row with excellent performances.

  3. “and there comes an odd ‘Rocky’ moment, when a montage of all the training and practice methods shows their progress. Since ‘Team America: World Police’, thou shalt not do that anymore, really – it exposed the simplistic mechanics of these montages with the Oscar-worthy song ‘Montage’ and the world of montage has never been the same.”

    I agree. They always make me laugh now. Similarly the moment at the beginning of The Opposite of Sex where the girl is running away from home and in the voiceover she says, “This part here, where I take the gun, is (duh!) important.” It’s ruined gun reveals for me ever since. They just make me laugh.

  4. Yes, yes, I agree! It’s a good film, but I doubt it will have much re-watch value in years to come. A solid review, Thomas!


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