Friday, February 4, 2011


Director Tom Hooper is no stranger to both historical epics and true stories. The wonderful TV movies and mini-series "Elizabeth I", "Longford" and "John Adams" are simply extraordinary accomplishments on his resume. He is no stranger to awards, either, since all of the previously mentioned movies have gathered a truck-load of wins and nominations, including Emmys and Golden Globes. So, it's no surprise "The King's Speech" is front-runner at the Academy Awards this year. Read more after the jump.

After the death of his father, and the abdication of his elder brother, George (Colin Firth), or Bertie to his friends, is forced to assume the throne on the eve of World War II. This is the true story of King George VI, who led Britain through war. However, he had a very difficult impediment to overcome before he could make his mark in history. A speech impediment. It's quite obvious that any great leader needs to be an equally great speechmaker, so, the stammering sovereign's wife, Queen Elizabeth enlists the help of australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who, through some unusual techniques and by offering his sincere friendship, helps George overcome not just his stammer, but also the roots of all his problems, fear and insecurity.

The movie is more than just a history lesson. This is ultimately the story of two people, on opposite sides of the social hierarchy, who help each other fulfill their destinies. It's a story of friendship and inner strength, narrated with great skill by Hooper, who avoids turning this into yet another self-conscious historical biopic. We warm up to the characters and find ourselves involved in their lives, which is more important than factual accuracy, in my honest opinion. It's effective cinema, sometimes a bit too crowd-pleasing, but engrossing nonetheless.

"The King's Speech" is, like all of Tom Hooper's previous works, technicaly impeccable. The atention to detail is astonishing. The cinematography, the art direction, the costumes, everything is so minutiously rendered on-screen that you sometimes find yourself staring at the background. Come to think of it, this much attention to details can be distracting, but, it's not to be faulted. The acting is also incredible. The actors, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter as the king's loving wife, Geoffrey Rush, Derek Jacobi, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, form an incredible ensemble that is nothing short of a delight to watch. Firth in particular is astonishing. He is sure to win the Oscar this year.

All in all, the movie is complex in a subtle, unabusive way. It never tries to bully the audience into liking it, and despite some obvious Oscar-bait marketing, the movie itself is sincere in its aims. It's also not a comedy. Don't believe the trailers that seem to push its comedic moments on the audience. It's a bona-fide historical drama that does feature some moments of subtle humour, but definitely not a comedy, so adjust your expectations. Tom Hooper has created a masterpiece, one that anybody can enjoy and appreciate and should not be missed.


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