In our effort to get to the prospective Oscar nominees (see EW for their list), we’ve so far seen Inception, The Social Network, and Toy Story 3. On the docket are The Fighter, with Black Swan and True Grit down the line once they come to The Colonial. We’ll catch The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone on DVD, and we’ll see what else makes it.
But tonight was The King’s Speech. And, in many ways, the film is flawless.
First, the story is sweet as all get out. The film is much funnier than I expected, and the film light with its drama. The film is intimate in a nice way for a historical drama about royalty, in some ways like The Queen. The fog of London reflects the fog Bertie finds himself in as a stutterer who doesn’t know why he stutters, and the personal life of the family is sweet.
The acting is spot-on (save perhaps for the slightly ridiculous Churchill). We just saw Colin in A Single Man on DVD, and the contrast is interesting: though two roles of British stiff-upper-lip-ishness, they are also obviously dissimilar in interesting ways, but with both he does great work. Certainly the mannerisms of a stutterer must have been difficult to pull off convincingly, and he does so, without them every being cartoonish. I’ve not really been a fan of Rush, but here he is just ridiculous enough, though strong and entertaining. Finally, though, can I just say how lovely it is to see Helena out of the clutches of Tim Burton? It was the charming, only slightly quirky Helena, not the complete whackjob. She was effortlessly funny and touching and a pure delight.
All of that being said, the film felt a little slight on reflection. There is nothing new about this film, other than insights into an interesting bit of history. It is all done well, but there is no great emotional payoff here: we’re glad that he overcomes, and feel satisfied by almost everything in the film, but there is little tension in a way (we know how this will turn out), and there are no great dramas because of that.
We also of course know how The Social Network will turn out plot-wise, but we get a much more complex insight into its protagonist: we don’t know exactly why Zuckerberg is such an asshole (the jilted lover thing feels like more a excuse than an explanation), but we come to find that Bertie stutters because his family life sucked. Well, then.
It’s a very good movie, but I don’t think it’s great. At this point, I don’t know what I’d say should win the Oscar of the four we’ve seen. Inception was overlong and convoluted, but ultimately fascinating; The Social Network was interesting and entertaining, though ultimately a little slight; Toy Story 3 had some real emotional heft it turns out, but also dragged in spots for me. Hrmmm. We’ll wait and see.