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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Movie Review: The King's Speech

I don't like historical stories. Whether the old bygone period is set in warring Japan, colonial America or jolly old England I am very disinclined to pick up any kind of story set in those times. This particular aversion of mine could be traced back to my schooling days where I had to take History as a subject and thanks to my brain's horrible memory with dates, it has become a subject that I have very few fond memories of. So then what was I doing at the movies watching one of those based on a true story period pieces? I needed to do something while I waited for my brother to be done with the party and this was the highest rated movie available there. Were those ratings well deserved? I happy to say that they really were.

The movie follows the life of the Duke of York a.k.a. Bertie and his trials and tribulations in the decade prior to his coronation as King George VI. This particular English monarch was known to have a speech impediment in the form of a stammer and the story depicts his attempts to overcome it with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue. Of course, some dramatic and artistic liberties were taken here but from I've read, Mr. Logue's methods were as unconventional in real as they were on the silver screen. Some of the lines were also based on notes left behind in the real man's journal too though I honestly can't tell which ones were totally made up and which ones had a basis to go on. I really am curious to know whether or not the man actually did make a prince shout out "fuckfuckshitshitshittyshitshishitbuggerfuckshitfuckbloodyfuckfuckfuckandtits". That's not the actual line from the movie though, I paraphrased it due to my shoddy memory.

As you can most probably infer from the previous paragraph, the movie has its fair share of humor mixed in with the drama. I have always had a high regard for the British wit this movie features some truly brilliant bits of dialogue. Lionel is a huge source of all the subtle comedy that you'll see here as he likes to go around jabbing sticks around at authority. The man had big enough balls to sit on some holy chair and sacrilegiously point out that people have carved their names in the wood that seated a fair number of "assholes"(His words, not mine). The scripting was obviously top-notch while the cinematography that went with it was fitfully impeccable. No scene was wasted and no reason to leave your seat, even for a little while, was given. After the magnificent first and a half hours of the film I just couldn't bear to miss any of the last twenty minutes even for the toilet break I was in dire need of and I would recommend anyone finding themselves in a similar situation to mine to follow my lead as missing those last few minutes would mean doing an injustice to not only yourself but to every moviegoer in there with you.

Do not misunderstand my praises though. My words thus far may seem to paint the movie as surprise comedy but the movie is still at heart a dramaticly heartwarming tale of a man that fought hard to serve his duty to the best of his abilities. Colin Firth portrayal of the burdened man was so convincing in his anguish that I actually found his struggles to be rather moving. Watching the guy go through speech therapy looks incredibly comedic at first but gradually it becomes so very clear just how big of a hurdle this was to Bertie. By the time the climax arrives, you're going to be on the edge of your seats, silently cheering him on, as he works his way through that lengthy three minute speech. Many movies failed to induce tension into their audience and where so, so, so many life-or-death explosion-filled battles were incapable of doing so, this three minute speech by a man still struggling with his speech impediment had my complete and utter attention as he tried not to stumble on the devilish contraption that is the wireless. I honestly wanted to join in on the clapping that shortly followed the king's speech but it was a very bare theater and I wasn't so sure if I wanted to get odd looks.

In short, the movie was marvelously spectacular and deserves a going to the cinema right now. They even extended the screenings to the rest of the world after it did so well back on native soil even though it was never meant to. Fellow Bruneians should know that the screenings are set at the new smaller theaters with the very comfy chairs and surprisingly chilly air-conditioning. I will certainly be adding this to my list of favorite films and I hope that it wins whatever awards they've got lined up for grabbing. I dare anyone who's seen this to try and tell me why Colin Firth shouldn't be getting the Best Actor award of 2010 for playing Bertie cause there's simply no competition with this role.

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