The King’s Speech (UK-Aus-US, 2010)

Nothing to say

Of course I should never have gone to see this film as I have absolutely no interest in anything to do with aristocracy. However, it is a box office phenomenon in the UK (it’s also done very well in America) and I am a fan of Firth and Rush so…

Inevitably the film’s attraction is that it humanises toffs. However, despite the fact they are human, the institution of aristocracy isn’t and so the film acts as propaganda. I hate the ‘Oo look they are just like us’ representation because they aren’t like us, they are the elite by accident of birth. No one should have that status.

As a relatively low budget film, high for UK, it is impressive in its set design, not to mention the stellar cast; Guy Pearce is brilliant as the fascist Edward (like Hawkes – see previous post – he does seem to under-used). Whilst Bonham-Carter sails through as ‘Bertie’s’ (Bertie!) wife, no doubt born to the role through her blood, Firth (as Bertie) and Rush are excellent. However, if Firth gets his Oscar I wonder whether it’s more in acknowledgment of his brilliance in A Single Man, when sentiment sent the Academy to Jeff Bridges?

Don’t go and see this film

Winter’s Bone (US, 2010)

It don't get much worse

I’ve seen this film described as ‘hillbilly noir’ and while that doesn’t give us much of a clue to the drained-out colour of winter in the Ozark mountains, or the handheld visual style, it does indicate the nightmarish milieux portrayed. The world is one of patriarchy unfettered by any state, or feminine, discourse. Jennifer Lawrence’s lauded performance as Ree, who’s desperately trying to keep a roof over her younger siblings – and ailing mother’s – head, is the heart of this bleak film where decency is thin on the ground. This isn’t to say it’s a portrayal of ‘bad’ people, there are acts of human kindness throughout, but the world is dysfunctional because unrestrained, and miserable, male power holds sway.

A mention, also, for the brilliant John Hawkes – Ree’s dissolute but good uncle – who I suspect is one of the most under-rated actors of his generation. He combines a downtrodden mien with a charisimatic presence; no mean feat. Winter’s Bone is what the best of cinema is about as it takes us to places that exist but where we don’t want to go.