September 5, 2011

Review: The King's Speech


It took me almost a full year to get around to reviewing this movie. And while I see it as being a good movie worth watching, I do not believe that all of the praise lavished upon it when it first came out is worthwhile. Indeed, while the movie is good, and generally speaking people can agree upon it being good, it is not great. That is to say, everyone would agree that it is a good movie, but good in the sense that everyone would rate it 6 out of 10, rather than, say, 9 out of 10.

Certainly this isn't because of the acting. The acting is great. Colin Firth and company put in believable and compelling performances. Nor is the dialogue itself unrealistic given its setting. Indeed, it is not what they say nor how they say it, because both the acting and the dialogue in this movie is top notch.

And yet the plot, despite aspects of reality, is what dooms this film to being merely good. The story of King George VI's family and personal problems would be compelling without embellishment, and certainly some thematical elements could be found. Yet the filmmakers found it suitable to entirely cram in historically false situations and scenarios, most of them involving Sir Winston Churchill. That the filmmakers essentially shaped the facts to fit their own storytelling would be forgivable if they were merely cutting out or embellishing elements that could make the plot itself difficult to deal with. For example, the length or the specifics of King George's treatment could be altered without truly losing the point of the story. But to in essence change reality so that themes about fascism and World War 2 could be put into the movie is disingenuous not only because of the unrealistic view it gives to history but because it presents themes about the past that just weren't there.

The movie, nonetheless, is worth watching, but not repeatedly. If you've already seen it, then hopefully you didn't buy the DVD, as there is no point. If you haven't seen it yet, I would suggest renting it: it is not a movie that will stand the test of time.

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