Thursday, March 10, 2011

The King's Speech

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 24th December, 2010
Time : 118 minutes
Director : Tom Hooper; Writer : David Seidler; Music : Alexandre Desplat
Starring : Colin Firth, Geoffery Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi

One of the mental tracks running through my head while watching this lovely movie was the pity I would feel for any director / writer who would dare come to an Indian producer to make this film. I could just imagine the producer’s reactions. “What ? A movie about a 40 something old man ? No sex scenes ? No item numbers ? No fights ? All he does is learn to overcome his stutter with a male doctor ? No one will come to see it !!!”

This is a film about the Duke of York (Colin Firth), the second in line to the throne after his elder brother David (Guy Pearce), and his struggle to overcome his speech impediment (his stutter) that he’s had since as long as he can remember. Unfortunately for him, the world seems to be entering the era where the King has to give speeches, broadcast on the wireless, rally the nation etc.

His personal struggle is juxtaposed with events that keep throwing him into prominence. His brother is having an affair. With a woman who’s twice divorced. This, of course, is unacceptable to the Church. His father’s illness. The rise of Hitler, an accomplished demagogue. An upcoming war.

And in the middle of all this, all the Duke can rely upon is the unstinting support of his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), who steadfastly remains on his side, through thick and thin. And the doctor (Geoffery Rush) with weird methods she found on Harley Street, who insists on a relationship of equals. Who goes against the advice of other doctors who advised the king to smoke (as it relaxes the lungs). Or inserted marbles in his mouth. Or, like his father, just urged him to speak it out, get on with it etc

The movie rests on the square, sometime faltering, shoulders of Colin Firth. The fact that he makes us warm to him, despite his temper and impatience. That he makes us will him to success. That he comes across as so human. And his relationship with the doctor. Who is informal, insists on calling Firth, Bertie, a name which so far was only used by family. Who wants to get inside his skin. Find the root cause behind the stutter. And for his troubles receives several tongue lashings from the Duke, unused to being questioned so much…

The underlying British humour makes it fun as well. For example, Firth’s father, trying to explain the role of a king to his son “In the past all a King had to do was look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse. Now we must invade people's homes and ingratiate ourselves with them. This family is reduced to those lowest, basest of all creatures, we've become actors!”

Or a brief exchange between the Duke and the Doctor on smoking…
Doctor : [as "Bertie" is lighting up a cigarette] Please don't do that.
Bertie : I'm sorry?
Doctor: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
Bertie: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Doctor: They're idiots.
Bertie: They've all been knighted.
Doctor: Makes it official then.

I think the measure of a great performance, especially around any disability, is when you cannot imagine the actor being normal. I remember watching Rainman and then rushing out to view a DVD of Dustin Hoffman being normal as I truly believed he was or had been autistic. Colin Firth inspires similar emotions. His wan smile, the long pauses as he struggles with words. His anger at his situation and fate. He truly seems like the man who was born to be a king…


Vikas said...

wow first comment for such a fantastic movie!
LOVED IT.. and even I AM BUYING the DVD ! its for keeps! :-)

Anonymous said...

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