The King's Speech
It's like Karate Kid, but with royals.

I forget the name of the dating site, but I remember it was one where the users could rate other users on attractiveness and also choose to send them a message to see if they were interested in getting together or whatever. Trust me, you’ll see why I bring this up shortly. An experiment was carried out wherein data was collected from all these women’s profiles. See, a trend had emerged where some women who had an average of four stars would get no male attention and some women with an average of four stars would get unwarranted and gigantic amounts of male attention. Girls who had apparently the same level of cuteness would actually be very unevenly matched in amount they could attract men.

This was because some women were fours all around: every guy who visited their profile rated them a four, and thus, every guy agreed that they were pretty cute. However, some women were all over the place. A lot of guys passionately loved their look for whatever reason, but some were utterly repulsed: a four average made up of fives, twos and ones. Girls who were rated a four by every guy fared far worse than girls who were rated five or one at attracting men. The reason I bring this up and waste two hundred nineteen words on it is that this is exactly what The King’s Speech is: fours all around with not a five or one to show for it.

I’ve been wondering since I was entertained by this movie how, exactly, I’d review it. This morning, I spent some time trolling old reviews by Roger Ebert. It turns out that his inimitable style is actually quite imitable: all I really have to do is recap the movie with my commentary. But something like that would take the fun and soul out of King’s Speech, a movie more about the quiet moments between its characters and the space around them than it is their dialogue or their faces. We all know that it’s about King George VI (Colin Firth) and his stammer and how he overcomes it with help from his first-teacher, then-friend Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). At first, the king-to-be is just the Duke of York, as his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) informs Logue when they first meet, without her husband’s knowledge.

But see, none of that beige prose could convey to you the quiet, understated English humour of it all. Or the quiet, understated English attitudes toward it all that lead every character to cling on in quiet desperation until the storm has passed. Sadly, it’s the early thirties, so the storm is gathering over in Germany, as several references to Herr Hitler remind us. Bertie, as King-to-be George VI is known to his family, is largely unconcerned with Germany, but he finds it more worrisome than his brother, next-in-line-for-throne Edward VIII (Guy Pearce). See, his brother has this nasty habit of taking on with married women, and as the Church of England (whom the king is in charge of) does not recognize divorce–well, it’s sort of a paradox. The only women he’s interested in are divorcees, but legally, those don’t exist under his very rule. Eventually, he abdicates the throne after the passing of their father, Edward VII (Michael Gambon). What, that can’t be a spoiler–it’s not called the Duke’s Speech, is it?

See, there’s only so much I can say about this movie. It’s so woefully adequate, so sufficiently good that I don’t see why it’s getting such breathless and hyperbolic praise from every outlet but mine. Oh, it gets a positive write-up to be sure, King’s Speech is not a bad movie. But it’s also not a great one, and it’s left me feeling much the same way as Green Hornet. I don’t know which film that’s a comment on, but I do know one was panned and one is nominated Best Picture, so you can all decide what I think for me, anyway. I’ve seen a lot of four star reviews for this film, and I just want to ask the people writing them: are you sure you didn’t see 127 Hours, a movie where things happen and the growing atmosphere of tension throughout is nearly palpable?

People say that the performances in this film are breathtaking. I regret to inform you that with the exception of Colin Firth, they’re all adequate. For some reason in my mind, a barrier has been erected between the quiet, dignified performances in True Grit and the quiet, dignified performances of King’s Speech. Yes, they’re both of the same quality, but True Grit‘s performances are at a slightly higher caliber. I saw Geoffrey Rush’s knowing smirk far too often for my taste in the second half of the film, Helena Bonham Carter was given comparatively little to do and Guy Pearce is seven years younger than Colin Firth and playing his older brother. What.

Colin Firth, however, was incredible in that True Grit way. That quit, dignified, soul lurking beneath troubled waters way that the English seem to live with and the Americans always envy. His performance should be rewarded come Oscar night, but let me state now that it is of equal caliber as Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as the Zuckerberg character in Social Network.

And after all of this, I should say: I don’t mean to rag on this movie. If I say anything bad about it, it will sound as if I disliked it. I didn’t. I sat through its entire two hour runtime and I was entertained for that whole length of time. Do I wish to have my money back? No. Do I wish to have the time back? No. Do I wish I’d seen another movie? No. Was it alright? Yes. Transcendent? No. No, it was not transcendent, and if I have to ask for my money back because the movie I saw wasn’t transcendent, then that is the day I’ve become an elitist snob. THREE STARS