Saturday, January 22, 2011

The King's Speech

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (4 stars) Fr. Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

The King’s Speech is a movie that will appeal to Anglophiles and fans of 1920s-40s period-pieces. True to the “period piece” genre, both the sets and the costuming are excellent and the story evokes themes of struggling with personal limitations and even sibling rivalry that make the story compelling beyond the regular audiences of such films.

The performances of the principal actors are also outstanding. Colin Firth, playing the lead role as King George VI has already won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama. He’s a shoe-in to be nominated for Best Actor for the Oscars (as well as the British Academy Awars) and in a year with not too many noteworthy will probably win both. Helena Bonham Carter who plays King George’s wife Elizabeth is also a shoe-in for a nomination for Best Supporting Actress and Geoffrey Rush also stands to at least be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in his role as Lionel Logue, King George’s Australian born speech therapist.

The more blue-collar / proletarian among us may find a movie such as this irritating. However, it reminds us that even someone of such high stature has personal challenges to overcome and family squabbles. It has long been noted that marriages of recovering alcoholics fail often _after_ the alcoholic stops drinking with the long suffering spouse of the alcoholic finding him/herself disoriented by the change in family dynamic. Something similar is portrayed here with George’s older brother Edward feeling threatened by George’s decision to try to deal with his debilitating stammer that had previously made him utterly unsuitable to become King. Yet part of George's motivation to try to "get better" was the realization that Edward had his own obvious issues (a relationship American two time divorcee Wallis Simpson) that threatened his ability to remain as King. And this was at a time when it was becoming clear that a Second World War was approaching and Britain would be in need of a King fully capable of fulfilling his duties.

I liked the picture as I’m sure most who see it. I also left wondering whether the cast of the film was able to have an audience and even chat with the current Queen Elizabeth II about the progress of the film as the film was about her parents when she and her sister Margaret were but small children. If I were Colin Firth or Helena Bonham Carter, I would have hoped for such an opportunity to talk with the Queen about how it was growing up with her parents at the time.

All in all, though not a huge fan of these kind of movies, I would recommend The King's Speech and especially for those who face handicaps or other such personal challenges in their lives. The example of King George’s struggle with stuttering can certainly be inspiring to all.

Finally, a note to parents: I'm somewhat puzzled at the movie's "R" rating (apparently for some profanity). While I don't think that hearing the future King of England say "bugger" a few times or even the "f" word should disqualify children or young teens from seeing the movie, I don't think that the movie would be particularly appealing to children or most young teens. It'd think it'd be "kinda boring" for them (though for adults it's just fine ;-)

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