“The King’s Speech” is a dry, historical drama, one that is thoroughly English, but never thoroughly engrossing. The script written by David Seidler is based largely off the inspiring true story of the Duke of York, whose year-long struggles to tame wild lisps and stuttering finally paid off when he delivered a transcendent wartime speech to an uneasy nation on the eve of WWII.
The movie however, isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be.
Though it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to widespread critical acclaim, “The King’s Speech” felt a little too much like award fodder to be taken seriously. From the meticulously decorated costumes (tweed jackets, hemmed trousers, monocles, and bowler caps aplenty) to its fairly predictable storyline, (“man beats odds,” conquers internal demons on road to redemption) I’d say it disappointed me to see that my expectations were too high, given the fact that the film is the Best Picture frontrunner for the Academy Awards.
The most entertaining spot, I’m glad to say, is the acting. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter give a trio of great performances, but they’re strangely hindered by Tom Hooper’s complacent directing and odd camera angles. Perhaps it’s just me, but Hooper seems to lack that unique quality of a director who captures genuine “moments” in his or her lens. Never did I feel exhilarated, scared, moved, sad, or happy during the screening. The minutes chugged along, and I felt a certain distance, a barrier between myself and the events on screen. I wanted to love it- as someone with a speech impediment in real life, I wanted this movie to inspire me, to be meaningful and poignant in ways I could latch onto. But it never did
I saw this around November, and since the past few months, my general opinion of the film has actually become more negative. Perhaps it’s because the film felt “old” and “tired” to me while watching it in theaters. Unlike “The Social Network,” which seems to thrive in new and very unpredictable cinematic waters, this is a film which is set in the past and seems to be meant for the past. I was reminded very much of “The Queen” starring Helen Mirren when I saw this, a “true-story-turned-drama” about overcoming obstacles that is more good than great.
Don’t get me wrong. “The King’s Speech” may be wonderful to some people and some reviewers on this site. I guess it just wasn’t the movie I was looking for.