Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Decade of Best Pictures: THE KING’S SPEECH

Welcome back to the first DECADE OF BEST PICTURES series of reviews where we will be taking a look at a decade of Best Picture winners over the course of 10 days. In this series we will be looking at the decade of Best Pictures from 2005-2015 in reverse chronological order! This sixth entry will be for the 2010 Best Picture winner THE KING’S SPEECH!

The King’s Speech is the 2010 Best Picture winner from director Tom Hooper. This film tells the story of King George VI who had a serious problem with stammering that he had to overcome as his father passed and his brother abdicated leaving him on the Throne of the United Kingdom (and it’s foreign colonies and territories) on the brink of World War II. The film stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, and Timothy Spall.

I really like The King’s Speech. Nay, I love The King’s Speech. This is a really good film. Yes, it’s traditional. Yes, it has relatively low stakes. But, at the end of the day, this film is impeccably well made, well-acted, and connected with me as an audience member. I think the primary thing this film does well is to transport you to the United Kingdom in the 1930s. The production is extremely period accurate and stunningly recreated. I felt like I was there and it added a level of believability that would just not be there otherwise.

I also thought that the performances in the film were extremely well captured. Colin Firth in particular did a stellar job in playing King George VI. As someone so eloquent, it’s very hard to imagine him with a significant stammer, however, in this film he nails that and you actually believe he has this impediment which, in his position, is a serious issue. Geoffrey Rush is also quite impeccable. He has this certain lightness about everything he does and he, in many ways, mocks traditional institutional roles in cheeky and meaningful ways which propels the story and breaks down the wall to create a friendship between two unlikely individuals. The supporting cast fills this film out well with Helena Bonham Carter playing Queen Elizabeth with her usual quirkiness and Guy Pearce and Michael Gambon nailing their respective roles as King George VI’s brother and father.

What really succeeds in The King’s Speech is how it connects with the audience, however. The film is not just a period drama. It is a period drama with a heart and soul that captivate and enthrall you. All of the conflict in the film is very human and the end goal (to give a good/rousing wartime speech) is a slight but important one. The film also manages to be extremely funny, including the coarse language scene that earned this film a ridiculous R-rating stateside. There are lots of heavier moments but they’re broken up with well patterned and effective humorous moments that keeps the audience with big smiles on their faces throughout. It is this dueling tonality that I think makes this a great movie and elevates it beyond something on HBO.

The only tiny complaint I have with The King’s Speech is that it isn’t a movie that calls me to come back to it frequently. Every time I see it I enjoy myself greatly, but I rarely feel compelled to see it. That’s not truly the biggest problem but with a film that is this watchable, there is a certain X-factor missing that I can’t fully describe.

Overall, this is a very good film. It wouldn’t be my Best Picture pick of 2010 (Toy Story 3), but it isn’t a bad entry in the pantheon of Best Picture winners. Definitely one to check out!

Ryan’s Score: 9/10

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