A friend of mine said her first reaction, upon hearing about the premise for The King’s Speech, was Why would anyone watch a movie about that? How can you even base a movie on something so boring? She was apparently not alone in this thought: even the Oscar buzz has not stopped some people wondering who on earth would make a movie about a king with a speech impediment who has to make a big speech.
When Sean told me about it, it sounded good to me (the language junkie). Based on real history, which is usually compelling. Great actors: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter. Unlikely to contain the kinds of things that put me off a movie, such as car chases, face-punching, and gratuitous swearing. (I was right on two counts.) Bring it on.
So my hubby and I went on a date to see it last night. It was a packed house (obviously a few other people thought it sounded good). And I’m just going to come right out and say it: it was a wonderful movie.
The story is interesting and thought-provoking. It’s really well-written, and superbly acted. It is not “action-packed”, per se, but dramatic, sometimes suspenseful, and truly funny. I hope this was exactly how it played out in reality – it was just so satisfying.
I came away with a firm thought in mind: it must suck to be royalty sometimes. Especially the monarch. I mean, I guess it could have its perks, but overall… you didn’t ask for fame and public scrutiny, like most celebrities. You just got born. You can never be even close to normal. You can never just have regular pals or a typical night out. How can you even relate to your citizenry?
For King George VI, it sucked more than usual. He points out in the movie that every other monarch got to succeed someone dead, but he had to succeed his larger-than-life brother. It would be such a scary thing to suddenly, unexpectedly, have to take on the country. It would be scarier still to do so across the Channel from Hitler getting all hopped up on bigotry. Then, to take on a role that requires eloquence (above all else, really), and not even know whether you’ll be able to get words out at all… it would be terrifying torture.
[Most teachers think a lot about the differences people have that make their lives harder. We think about what tools we can give certain kids to help them function in a world that would rather they were more (or less) x, y, or z. I guess it’s for the best that we don’t know which kids will grow up to be famous or powerful – can you imagine the pressure of trying to give those tools to a future king?]
Colin Firth did an amazing job. It had to be some serious work to a) perfect the poncy royal accent with the addition of a funny “r”, b) overcome your own elocution training to stammer painfully and convincingly, and c) on top of that, act. Not only does he act, he pulls off a remarkable combination of self-possession and awkwardness. Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were also delicious in their roles – and I have to mention Jennifer Ehle, who plays the speech therapist’s wife. A small part, but she made it memorable.
I have only one advisory: please don’t watch this movie in the very front of the front rows of the theatre. No human was meant to be seen that huge – and the stammer is even more painful coming from a mouth the size of your kitchen.
But hey – we stayed! If it was worth watching at that angle, you can take that as an emphatic “go see it.”