I recently proclaimed that I was not ‘blown away’ by the Kings Speech. I’m not even sure what all the hoo ha is about regarding its nominations. Yet every other year or so, when the Slumdog Millionaire‘s and The Hurt Locker‘s (genuinely non-hollywood, innovative features) of the industry are not being haled as the anti-awards underdogs to give the mainstream Hollywood box office hits a run for their vast amounts of money, then the biopic and traditional audience pleasing productions take pride of place on the list of every magazine, tv and radio coverage. The media prior and succeeding its release becomes ridiculous.
So that is why I was apprehensive about seeing this movie. Too much hype was generated before it was even released, and I was worried I was going to be disappointed. It was about a monarch, in other words, a sure-fire way to win over the American audience who have been known to have a particular affinity towards the Kings and Queens of our lifetime (the Windsor’s for the pedantic). Also Colin Firth really doesn’t blow me away. He is, at best easy to watch and strangely likeable despite his inability to have had any role that wasn’t a pompous, upper middle class bumbling tribute to Mr Darcy. Helena Bonham-Carter is always brilliant, but it’s becoming apparent more recently that she plays the same version of eccentricity disguised only by variations of vocal intonations and costumes. If anything I wanted to see Geoffrey Rush. I love him and have no problem with watching him and knowing I will enamoured. The man was one half of the reason that Pirates Of the Caribbean was so awesome.
I was also annoyed by the blatant mechanics to draw a curious US audience by pointlessly featuring a young future Queen of England and a now deceased younger sister Princess Margaret (played by that funny little thing from Outnumbered) I didn’t really feel for the King. In fact Lionel (Rush) was the character I was interested in. The unexplored ambition of his to be an actor, the xenophobic prejudices he and his family must have fought during World War burdened Britain. The Kings down right rude and less than princely behaviour towards him.
It was unfortunate that Lionel’s story was used as the foundation to promote an Awards centric film that essentially tells us nothing about the former King apart from that he had a stammer and hired a man to help him get rid. It also unashamedly vilified King Edward VIII and his divorcee companion Wallis Simpson in one breadth, with no care to even presume that perhaps it was a less than black and white problem that the media at the time chose to present.
If there was anything to shout about it was the beautiful clothes they wore and cinematography. Largely the scenes set in Lionel’s speech therapy workspace. The artistic design was fantastic in those scenes. The rest of the film felt uncommonly limited, it was apparent to me that it was all filmed on a set, which never enters my mind when I watch a film…unless its a old spaghetti western or just an old movie from the golden age.
Everything about it just screamed ‘cop out’ to me. I understand it was adapted in part from a work of fiction that was based on the real life Kings speech impediment, and it was entertaining for sure, it just really could have been brilliant like biopics before it. Instead its a 2hr play with all the predictable over-done stereotypes of the British monarchy slapped across it for a particularly light-hearted viewing pleasure. It wasn’t insightful, innovative or ground-breaking in the slightest.