Thursday, January 27, 2011

Capsule: The King's Speech

A surprisingly amiable film as many of the biopic/period clichés are effectively underplayed or absent entirely. As noted elsewhere Tom Hooper attempts more than the kind of paint-by-numbers approach usually found in such projects. He is committed to finding some visual interest in his frame - the initial therapy session with Rush's character is shot in such a way that there is an uncomfortable amount of negative space in the frame, effectively putting the viewer on edge. However there are moments when he bows to cliché. For example the way the final speech is shot, with its cutaways to every character who is even remotely important - and several that aren't - is tiresome. Surely it might have been more effective, and more in keeping with the film's low key tone, to stay locked on Rush and Firth and emphasis the constant personal  struggle of giving the speech?

The aforementioned low key tone is a great relief. Rather than the usual portentous declarations of importance the film generally downplays whatever negligible impact the speeches of King George VI might have had. Of course this approach also means that what we're left with is the story of a friendship between two loving family men but the performances and dialogue make it a fairly charming affair. If there's nothing particularly refreshing in the story of the eccentric who helps his new uptight friend live a little there's nothing particularly objectionable about it either.

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