Monday, 23 May 2011

DVD Review: The King's Speech

Rating: 7.8/10 - Very Good

This year's big winner at the Oscars has finally arrived on DVD and Blu-ray for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. While film's about monarchies tend to be stiff, boring and way too long, The King's Speech has a freshness to it that will keep you thoroughly entertained throughout.

Director: Tom Hooper. Screenplay: David Seidler. Producers: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin. Executive Producers: Paul Brett, Mark Foligno, Geoffrey Rush, Tim Smith, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein. Editor: Tariq Anwar. Cinematographer: Danny Cohen. Score: Alexandre Desplat. Distributor: The Weinstein Company. Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce. Running Time: 116 Minutes. Age Restriction: 13LM.

The King's Speech is one of the most all-round brilliantly acted films I've had the pleasure seeing in recent times. First there's Helena Bonham Carter who as Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother, manages to be royally posh without the "We are not amused" aloofness that one would expect from a British Monarch. It is in fact her down to Earth nature that leads her to seeking the help of a commoner (which was uncommon for the royal family back then) in  a desperate bid to try and find a cure for her husband's stammering. Compared to the outlandish, over the top characters that she's become renowned for, I'd choose this sophisticated yet understated version of Helena Bonham Carter any day.

Geoffrey Rush holds his own as Lionel Logue, the unorthodox Australian speech therapist given the task of helping the then Duke Of York overcome his stammering. His character has this confident, almost cocky, swagger about him that he pulls off with effortless aplomb. It's great to see that he also seems to be having fun with the character and us the audience can't help but reciprocate that his love the character. His immigrant status, sharp wit, failed acting career and his family man status are all vital in adding depth to his relationship with the future king.

The star of the show is undoubtedly Colin Firth who is simultaneously vulnerable and majestic as King George VI. His acting here eclipses his previous role as a gay British university professor living in early 1960's America in the underrated A Single Man. This is indeed one of those rare performances for which the English language lacks a suitable adjective and which will be remembered for many years to come.

The plot itself is simple enough: Colin Firth is The Duke Of York who has had a stammering problem all his life and with the help of his wife they enlist Lionel Logue to try and cure his condition. The plot plays out as a very formulaic overcoming the odds and appreciating the true value of friendship kind of story but it is thankfully saved from mediocrity by the brilliance of the main actors and to a smaller extent the director. Although I still maintain that either Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David Fincher (The Social Network) or even Christopher Nolan (Inception)  should have won the Best Director prize at this year's Oscars, Tom Hooper is certainly no slouch in the directing department and does a wonderful job in making The King's Speech an entertaining film. Under a different director this could've easily been reduced to a hoity-toity costume drama that only pretentious critics (which I am not) would've enjoyed rather than an accessible human drama that general audiences supported to the tune of over $400 million at the box office on a $15 million budget.

Verdict: All in all this is not the masterpiece that many have made it out to be. It is instead a very satisfying exploration of the ties that bind us as human beings regardless of our social standing.

The King's Speech is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

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