Thursday, December 30, 2010

The King’s Speech (2010) – Review

The King’s Speech is a well crafted film, hitting on all the right emotional notes. The performances by its principal cast are outstanding and the technical work is just as good. Director Tom Hooper displays a mastery of narrative structure as the film flows impeccably guiding the audience through the story. Hooper is able to take a specific story, which may on the outside seem to only appeal to a few, and present it in such a manner that it would surely enthrall any viewer (given that they give it a chance). He stays with his characters completely, not wooed away by bigger events of the time and place (and even bigger characters such as Winston Churchill), and the film greatly benefits as the viewer feels connected to these characters and takes stock in the outcome and wants to see them succeed (which is the key element to the best narratives). Here, the audience will laugh and cry and feel just as the characters do – completely connected. This is the true success of the film – Hooper’s ability to construct a narrative that engrosses the audience while garnering expert and pitch-perfect performances from his cast. Hooper also has an artistic flare. The framing in the film is quite interesting. Early on in many shots there is lots of empty space, the actor only occupying a portion of the frame, usually squeezed to one side. It is as if there is something missing. As the film progresses, this negative space is filled by another principal actor, suggesting that the friendship that develops between King George VI and Lionel Logue was something that both needed to make their lives more complete. It is a nice visual touch. Hooper also uses framing to exaggerate the visual effect of the agony, frustration and humiliation of King George’s stammer. The frame is skewed at an angle making the viewer uncomfortable, simulating the feeling with the character. If there is any issue with the film, it is that the narrative is almost too well structured leaving the film feeling a bit too “Hollywood”, but really this is a minor complaint. The King’s Speech features some of the year’s best performances, great directing and a wonderful presentation of an interesting story behind the scenes of the Royals.

Technical and acting achievements: Hooper seems to have mastered his craft with his third feature film. On The Damned United, he extracted fine performances from his cast, but the narrative structure was lacking. Here, he does both expertly. Hooper also secured the best work of both cinematographer Danny Cohen and production designer Eve Stewart’s careers; they both do fantastic work on the film – Stewart’s design for Logue’s office was genius while Cohen captured the look of wartime England. Alexandre Desplat’s score, like all his work, augments the emotional journey of the film. (Now it may have just been an error at the theatre, but) he even matches his score to the flow and stammer of King George VI, noticeable during the final speech scene. The whole cast was brilliant. Michael Gambon’s powerful King George V, Guy Pierce’s ghastly King Edward VII and Timothy Spall’s spot-on Winston Churchill highlight the supporting cast. But this is really more about the main three characters and performances. Helena Bonham Carter is refined, loving and funny (it is a great performance and probably my favorite of her career). Geoffrey Rush is also really good, but the star of the film is Colin Firth. Coming off the best performance of his career in A Single Man, (I had high expectations and) he delivers another grand (if not better) performance – though one that is tailored to his strengths.

The King’s Speech is an excellent film and story of bravery and triumph in trying times. 9/10 

No comments:

Post a Comment