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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The King's Speech Movie Review -- An unorthodox but meaningful film about leadership

Potato On-the-Go:

Winner of four major Academy Awards in 2010 including Best Picture, The King Speech is considered to be one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Warner Bros held a special preview of The King's Speech last May 6 at Greenbelt 3's My Cinema but it formally runs in Manila starting May 11 exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma).

The King's Speech also won three other major Oscars – Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), while cast members Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter earned nominations in supporting actor categories. Rounding out the multi-award-winning cast are Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon.

Official movie trailer of The King's Speech

Based on the true story of King George VI, The King's Speech follows the Royal Monarch's quest to find his voice. After the death of his father King George V (Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of Prince Edward VII (Pearce), Prince Albert (Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England.

With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue, an unorthodox Australian speech therapist based in Lond on played by Geoffrey Rush. After a rough start, the two delve into an unusual course of tre atment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. The two men become friends as they work together. And after King George VI's brother abdicates, the new king relies on Logue to help him make a radio broadcast at the beginning of World War II. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Spall), the King will overcome his stammer a nd deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle.

In a microscopic view, The King’s Speech deals with the story of Geoge VI’s stammering problem and the need for him to quickly address his concerns in able to deliver a broadcast speech of national importance. This is a uniquely interesting story as it shows that monarchs are humans too, we may see them as almost perfect human beings but the film shows that they experience the same problems as ours. George VI and Elizabeth shows that royalties can take off their robes, face the realities of life, and deal with all kinds of people. It also highlights that friendship between a king and a commoner can be real, possible and beautiful. The story, as it is based in real life accounts, is unique and interesting. It also talks about the two heirs to the thrown but it didn't dwell on the usual conspiracy stories about power struggle and rivalry, especially between siblings.

In a macroscopic view, I see the story of The King's Speech as a symbolism for leadership. George VI's primary concern may be about his stammering problem but it depicts the fear he needs to deal with as he assumes the thrown when his brother failed the expectations of the parliament. And as the basic story tells us, George VI, did all he can, although it was not that easy, to be worthy of the thrown.

The heart and soul of a film like The King's Speech lies on its story and script but its brilliant cinematography turned me speechless. The lighting is a visual poetry and most of the framing is beyond ordinary. I particularly was impressed with the camera techniques used during the therapy sessions of George VI. The subjects are not always in normal framing and it somehow shows the slow build up of trust between George VI and Logue . But as the plot evolves, we can notice how the framing goes standard and relaxed, showing the friendship nurtured throughout the story. The glossy texture of the film was also able to help reflect the time of the story when it actually happened.

Art direction is another masterpiece. It's a time capsule that brought us to the pre-world war 2 era. Set design, make-up, costumes and props blended well giving us a cinematic painting of the events that transpired during that time.
And lastly, acting is exceptional. Colin Firth is worthy of the recognition he received from various award giving bodies in different parts of the world. Helen Bonham-Carte also surprised me in this film. I am used to seeing her in witch or dark roles, which she is also good at, but her performance here is a transformation. She is revelation to me, she's such a gifted versatile actress. Geoffrey Rush also gives a commanding portrayal with his strong delivery of lines and truthful facial expressions. This again is another proof that an actor doesn't need to be melodramatic to deliver a great performance. And of course, Firth is highly commendable for showing the human side of George VI and how he painfully overcomes the monarch's humbling personal battles to lead a country.

The comments I have for the King's Speech are very minor. There are a few scenes that transitioned not very well especially from a mid lit room to a very bright exterior. I would rather do a fade outs to connect such scenes. And I also wished that some parts of George VI's childhood were shown when he struggled with his speech condition. With this, the audience could further understand the ordeals of the monarch.

The King's Speech is not your regular movie about kings. We are used to royal blood character who is geared with a shining armor and holds a sword blessed by a sorcerer to rule the land, and live happily ever after. The King's Speech showed that leadership is not just a special privilege but a huge responsibility. And one magical spell cannot make one leader a superhero or messiah who can solve all the country's problems. Solution is a work in progress and help is needed even from ordinary people.

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving The King's Speech a royal 8 1/2!

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