Thursday, 24 February 2011

The King's Speech: Let's not forget what the great films look like

Maybe it's the weight of expectation, but The King's Speech is, in all honesty, alright. Fine. Not great. Just good. It's what happens when a film is held up as a year's highlight. One of the best things you'll see. Something to applaud and celebrate. But I don't think anybody could say it was a masterpiece, or even something that's going to be remembered for a long time. It's calm and gentle, with a great performance from Colin Firth. And that's good enough for me, but let's not get carried away. You get a sense of a man trapped in a horrible situation, abused and neglected and called royalty. Despite being Colin Firth, he looks small and worried, shaking at the prospect of speaking in front of people. His relationship with the 'common' speech therapist is at the heart of the film. This guy really doesn't give a damn. He calls the king 'Bertie' and sits on thrones with his feet up - 'It's a chair. I don't care how many royal arseholes have sat in it'. If it wasn't for this Australian the film would have just been a bunch of royals swanning around in large rooms, and I'm not interested in that. We can thank history for supplying Lionel then, and livening up what could have been a boring two hours. The politics of the royal family does not make a great film, mainly because none of them seem like people. Apart from poor Bertie and his wife, who summon just enough sympathy to make us care. He stammers 'so beautifully' that they never expected to have to deal with these problems. He manages though, and we're still thanking Lionel for that.

But here's the thing. When I look at some of the other films up for winning Shiny Trinkets, then I wonder how this has ever got a look in. The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Inception - at least three films that deserve the prize for Best Picture more (and, er, the only other ones I've seen). The Social Network is literally inspirational, it makes me feel excited about filmmaking. Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece of animation. Inception is surreal, confusing, and a little bit wonderful. The King's Speech did not make me feel much of anything. It's fine, give Colin Firth all the acting awards you want, he deserves it, but let's not get confused about what the really great films look like.


  1. Interesting review...
    I can't say I felt the same though, I think this was the best film of last year, much better than Inception and slightly better than The Social Network.
    I wouldn't hesitate to call it a great film, sure it's calm and gentle but it's this modesty and calmness that makes it great, it doesn't overreach itself, it attains exactly what it was aiming for while still delivering some pleasant surprises. Something which I think Inception did not manage to achieve...
    That's just my opinion though, and I fully respect your opinion, I of course don't demand that you agree with me...

  2. I loved this film, and I know that it was basically for the performances. Without Firth and Rush (who have always been favourites of mine) this film would have been forgotten. Also, Helena Bonham Carter, while solid, really did nothing to warrant that Best Supporting Actress nomination.

  3. It's a very generic film that we have seen done time and time again, but Firth and Rush bring so much flavor to this material that it all works so well. Good Review!

  4. I like Moviebob's thoughts that this movie is designed from the ground up to be Oscar bait, and that it's not really for an audience at all.

  5. Jack - I suppose I just felt underwhelmed by it. I think I would have liked it a lot more if it wasn't being put next to films I love. The Oscars caused everyone to disagree, which is probably a good thing.

    Ruth - Yeah, the performances hold it up. Though there's no way Helena Bonham Carter can win the Oscar for this, unless the campaign really is that good.

    dtmmr - It's restrained and never really sparked my interest as much as I wanted it to. Aggressively gentle, but still good, I think. Because of the performances.

    Drake - Films about royalty do go down well. That being said, it's doing well in the cinema. I'll have a look at that.