The King's Speech" is a heartwarming, "Masterpiece Theatre"-type affair about King George VI, who conquered a serious speech impediment and, with the able assistance of a saucy Aussie therapist, taught himself to address his countrymen in public during their finest hour. This is a very nice story, and even though the film fudges the facts—Edward VIII and his Nazi-loving wife get off pretty easily—it definitely achieves what it sets out to accomplish. The performances are very good, the dialogue is crackling (except when the king stutters) and the lighting could not be better. Moreover, the way Helena Bonham Carter jauntily cocks her stylish chapeaux is enough to convince you that the Queen Mother herself has generously returned from the dead to do a nice little cameo.
That said, "The King's Speech" is basically a film about what positively smashing folks the royals are. It's a film that's infatuated by those awfully swell people up at Balmoral who wear kilts and shoot foxes. Americans used to turn up their noses at this sort of stuff. But that was before "Upstairs, Downstairs" and Merchant & Ivory intoxicated the entire republic with the rustle of crinoline and the shimmer of lace. "The King's Speech" is not, after all, a film about a Welsh coal miner who overcomes a speech impediment. It is not a film about an Aussie doughboy trapped on the beach at Gallipoli who overcomes a speech impediment. It is a film about spiffing chaps and the spiffing folks who help them to be even more spiffing.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Joe Queenan, alas, does not like The King's Speech: