Movie Review: The King’s Speech

It’s as good as everyone says.  
An understated tour de force, a character-driven, dialogue-dependent, emotionally uplifting, underdog, nice-guy-finishes-first sorta film.  The performances are elegant and simple.  It is quietly luxurious, confident enough in itself to eschew grandstanding.  Rush, Firth, and Carter are excellent and literally carry the entire movie on their shoulders.  Supporting cast is mostly forgettable, but then that’s pretty much the point.
All that being said, the film doesn’t take any chances, either.  The good guys are very good.  The bad guys are impotent at best.  
Philosophically and theologically, the film is pretty fluffy – essentially boilerplate for the idea that if you try hard enough, you can do it.  Take the high road and all will be well.  While there are plenty of dips in the overall narrative flow, the outcome is foregone, and the only real threat to a happy ending is the king himself.  Will he allow himself to be himself, or will the not-so-nice people around him continue to cow him into stuttering self-imposed silence?
This is unfortunate because given his role as head of the Church of England – something that is mentioned only as a plot device and historical fact rather than any type of personal issue – there is a great deal of room here for theological speculation.  George VI displays a fairly typical (if typecasting and historical speculation are at all reliable) royal practicality (and self-serving-ness) about matters of morality, encouraging his older brother to have an affair with Wallace Simpson rather than actually marry her.  And the King demonstrates admirable qualities as a sensitive father and husband.  
But on deeper implications of faith and how this faith affect him, the film is amazingly silent.  God is mentioned only by way of epithet, never as an actual aspect of the king’s or any other character’s being.  The sole religious character, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is depicted as an ingratiating, painfully obvious political manipulator who seeks to undermine the new king emotionally.  God is absent in all respects and quarters.
It would have added a depth to the movie to see theological implications and manifestations explored.  The king’s role as head of the Church of England is never a matter that the king himself seems to either deal with or be concerned about.  He has much angst over ascending to the throne, but no angst whatsoever about being the religious leader of a great many people.  
I would have loved to see the grappling with faith as a curative and restorative power, the dynamics of forgiveness and grace undergirding the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps philosophy, anything that dealt with this aspect of the king personally and professionally.  As it stands, the film is in many ways as vapid as the royalty it caricatures.  Beautiful to look at, but ultimately a carefully choreographed production for the public eye, stripped of anything deeper that might edify or provoke.
Overall a family-friendly movie, though kids are likely to find it somewhat boring.  There are two scenes of obligatory profanity.  Although it makes a certain level of sense, it seems also to be painfully intentional, as though this were the only way they could think of to avoid a G rating.  As such, beware of tender ears.  The first substantial episode of swearing is set-up nicely so you can mute it.  The last one is in the final rehearsal for the titular speech at the end of the film.  

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