Movie Review: The King’s Speech

March 7, 2011

Much to my delight, Amit and I managed to get away for a movie on Sunday afternoon while the kids were napping and the cook was cooking. Our choices were Hall Fall and The King’s Speech and I chose the latter purely because it had swept the Oscars. It’s quite something to be watching a current, talk-of-the-town movie in a movie hall for a change. The last such movie we watched together was Quantum of Solace – yes, it’s been that long.

Anyway, I can see why The King’s Speech is such an acclaimed movie. It follows an infallible formula for success – a simple story, well told. In fact, brilliantly told. The charm of the story is that it is one man’s battle against his own limitation – against his fears, his boundaries. He has one person to help him and guide him and even to challenge him. And they both are men, not young, not handsome, and with nothing else between them except this one battle that they are fighting together. The fact that the man fighting the battle is a king becomes secondary to the battle itself – it could be anyone, fighting their own battle against their past, and trying to meet (or make, or at least take charge of) their destiny.

The acting is superb. Colin Firth expresses in his face and eyes so much of what he suffers in being unable to speak. And all of the others are good too, even the King’s two little girls and Logue’s family.

The lines are superb. I love when Logue calls the kings doctors idiots, and, when the king says they are knighted, smoothly retorts that well, it’s official, then.

The context is perfect. It would have been easy to get distracted by throwing in a lot of royalty into this movie. But they haven’t done that. There’s just enough trappings to remind you that this is, after all, a prince and a king that we’re dealing with; but you never get side-tracked by that fact. I also like the way Logue’s family is shown. They could have skipped that altogether, but it adds so much depth to the movie to have it there. I also like the fact that they end with a small victory. It’s not as if the king became a great orator and delivered a hugely emotional, stirring speech. His was a modest victory – nine minutes, without stammering. That is so realistic, so achievable. So inspiring.

Would I watch it again? Probably not. I’m not sure it would hold my attention a second time round. But if it were coming on TV some day, I’d probably wait for the “they’re idiots” line before I changed the channel. And then, maybe, I’d watch a little more.

Movie Review: Rabbit Hole

March 7, 2011

I watched this movie while Amit and the kids were in Calcutta. I had made up my mind to watch a movie, any movie, while on my mini-break and this seemed the best of the lot. However, it sounded rather depressing. It was supposed to be about a couple who had just lost their four-year-old in an accident. Not the best thing for a mom of two four-year-olds to dwell on, you’d think.

But it was a superb movie. It didn’t dwell on the death of the child so much; it was all about how the two parents were grieving in their different ways. The mom stoically practical, moving on, trying to bury or deny her grief; the dad almost relishing it, relinquishing himself to it, holding on to the past, almost as though letting go of it would belittle his love for his son or his grief over his son’s death. Both partners find it difficult to understand the other’s way of handling their grief. The dad does try to reach out to the mom, but he also seems to resent her hard, level-headed practicality, and her need to move on. She can’t handle his hanging on style of grieving. The movie is beautifully done – you can understand each person’s pain, see each person struggling to deal with it, and identify in some part with both of them. You can see just how difficult it would be for them to bridge the gap. And how easy it would be to turn to someone else for solace. Yet, the movie doesn’t go down that path – it doesn’t become yet another tale of an extra-marital affair. It also doesn’t commit that other crime against reality – the crime of showing a really superficial happy ending. The ending, as much as the middle, is true to life. It’s not a happy ending, so much as it is a small tiny step towards what might be a happy beginning, or maybe a happy resuming. I haven’t seen a movie so delicately, so sensitively done in a long time. Of course, I haven’t seen too many movies in the last so many years, so that may not be saying much, but it really was a brilliant movie.

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