I went to see The King's Speech last night in Reigate at the Everyman cinema. Firstly, I have to sing the praises of the cinema, which is an absolute gem. With only two screens, they are quite selective about the films they show and being part of a small chain they offer a much more personal and friendly experience than the multiplexes which have overtaken the market. The manager gives a quick chat at the beginning of each performance, they produce a great monthly magazine, have fantastic drinks and snacks in the bar and even sell ice-creams between the trailers and the feature. If you're lucky enough to live near an Everyman cinema please do give them a try (if you haven't already!) They deserve to have the support of anyone who appreciates good films and the magic of the cinema.
OK, so gushing praise for the cinema, but what of the film? More of the same I am afraid! I am always slightly wary of going to see any film that is surrounded by a huge amount of hype; the potential for disappointment is always so much greater! I can honestly say that The King's Speech met and exceeded my expectations. There are so many wonderful things about it that I am not even sure where to begin. I had expected it to be quite a sombre film, but there are laugh-out-loud moments, mostly in the scenes with Lionel Logue, the speech therapist. Geoffrey Rush plays the part beautifully - quiet and understated but completely dedicated to his task.
In fact, each part is played beautifully. Of course, Colin Firth is an absolute marvel. When I first heard the casting for this film, I could not picture how Colin Firth could make a good Bertie - he seems too 'solid' and down to earth - but his portrayal is touching and utterly convincing. Helena Bonham-Carter is perfect as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (not that I expected anything else) and Guy Pearce quite chilling as the Duke of Windsor. And who would have thought that Timothy Spall could play such a convincing and instantly recognisable Winston Churchill?
Although there are some moments of slightly clunky exposition, I think it has actually been very finely balanced - it's not dumbed-down, nor is it inaccessible to anyone who knows nothing of the history or events of that era and the abdication crisis.
An absolute delight of a film - I laughed and cried - and I really hope that it makes its mark in the awards' season and I firmly believe that Colin Firth can now step boldly from the shadow of Mr Darcy and stake his claim as one of the best contemporary British actors, pending full status as a National Treasure.
This is the first of many must-see films this year. I am already beside myself with excitement about the release of Never Let Me Go having absolutely loved the novel. Carey Mulligan is a captivating actress and I have even begun to appreciate Keira Knightley's talents after her performance in The Duchess.
The cinematography in the trailer looks gorgeous and the story is so deeply emotional that I cannot see how this can fail to be a fantastic cinema experience.
Also, there is Brighton Rock, an adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. Interestingly I hear that Carey Mulligan was originally cast in the role of Rose, but ended up doing Wall Street 2 instead (having seen neither film I cannot comment on her decision!)
I have only ever read one Graham Greene Novel (The End of the Affair) so don't really know what to expect, but the trailer looks amazing. The other advantage of not having read the book in this case is that I won't be offended or upset by the setting of the story in the 1960s, rather than the 1930s as in the novel.
So, plenty to look forward to in the first few months of 2011. I am planning on settling down later with Empire magazine and poring through their preview of up-coming films. What films are you itching to see?