Well now that all the Oscars hoohah has come and gone, and all the reviews written and read, I thought I'd finally add my two cents worth.
I did see this when it was released here, and actually came close to reviewing it at the same time as True Grit, Wild Target, etc. Why didn't I then? Quite simply something bothered me about this film that I couldn't define. After several months, many reviews, the Oscars, and much thinking I found I could finally put it down in words.
For me this film lacked something so many well acted and truely great films have that lift them into that status, that thing is heart. The King's Speech lacked heart, and with it soul. It is a film that I feel will be forgotten in time as it isn't as good as many think it is. It will never be amongst the immortal films. Colin Firth's performance will be forgotten in the mists of time. Only the truely exceptional performances and Oscar wins are ever really remembered.
Why do I feel this way? Again, heart. This film lacks it. Granted Firth is excellent as the stammering monarch, but he is soulless with it. I never felt that he became the character. It is a technical performance and not one from within. I found Firth much superior as a gay man who loses his lover in last years A Single Man. He played the part with heart and passion and I could feel the character coming from within Firth. He just doesn't come close to achieving this in Speech.
Like I have said it is a technical performance. To stammer as he does is an incredible acting achievement, but does anyone out there remember Ronnie Barker as Arkrite in Open All Hours? Barker stammered week in week out, whereas Firth only done it for the time to make the film. Stammering as an actor is nothing new and takes much talent, but for me Colin Firth's performance is nothing original or remarkable. Technically excellent but a thoroughly souless one in the process.
Helen Bonham Carter's performance is thoroughly and disgracefully over rated. She appears in the film in several brief scenes but I didn't see anything that made me sit up and go 'wow'. She provided nothing out of the ordinary and I sit here months after the film struggling to comprehend what all the fuss was about. Hailee Steinfeld's performance in True Grit far eclipises Carter's by far. For me this is one of the most over rated performances to be nominated for an Oscar and highlights the flaws in awards. The best performances don't always get what they deserve. For me Carter's performance didn't merit an Oscar nomination.
Geoffrey Rush on the other hand was a marvel! How far from being a pirate could he be! For me his performance was the best of the film. I felt he put himself into the character. He projected sole and belief in his part. Firth and he did have chemistry, but only I feel because they are both professionls.
Overall this film is over rated. Firth is technically excellent but lacks that certain spark that could have lifted his performance from merely good to exceptional. I couldn't 'feel' for him or get engaged in his character. Helen Bonham Carter is disgracefully over blown. But Rush is the highlight. I don't say this film is rubbish because it is actually very good, but not as good as we are being led to believe. I think the litmus test will be in a decade or two when people look back and think of which were the great films of the last ten or twenty years. I seriously doubt The King's Speech will be among those nominated.
I feel this film is just grandstanding and was made just to win awards. I dislike that approach to film making and this brings me back to my gripe about this film. It lacks heart. It lacks soul, spark and emotional engagement. I just think it is flat and I felt really annoyed at Firth's smug look on his face as he held his Oscar. I have watched much superior acting get over looked for Oscars and yet they are remembered. I really doubt Firth's will, and I seriously think The King's Speech will eventually fade into obscurity and out of memory.
I have found a site that lists some historical inaccuracies of the film. Some are understandable for length reasons of the film. But Speech like most historical drams suffers from its fair share of them. Click on the link at the far bottom to see them.
A good film to be sure, but totally, totally over-rated.
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