Posts tagged Tom Hooper
Before my review of Tom Hooper’s film “Les Miserables,” I just want to preempt a few nastygrams by saying that I have tremendous respect for this musical. I studied it in school growing up, I’ve watched several performances of it over the years, and I know some of the songs well enough to sing along. Although I’m not exactly a diehard “Les Mis” devotee, I can appreciate the skill with which the story and the music are crafted. Both are woven together in a way that is compelling and enthralling.
That being said, Hooper’s adaptation is a disappointing cinematic regurgitation of the stage show that is downright boring. The only interesting moments come from specific performances and the small deviations the film makes from tradition.
I loved last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. This period piece, which takes place in the 1930s leading into World War II, follows the soon-to-be crowned King George VI (Colin Firth), a man who suffers from a stammer.
George’s speech impediment severely limits him in the numerous public speaking engagements he must attend, and leaves him without confidence as a leader. When traditional speech therapy fails him, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out the unorthodox Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to aid her husband. At first, Logue’s informal methods clash with the king’s royal upbringing, but over time the two form a strong bond.
Colin Firth gives a convincing performance as the King George VI, showing us a character who legitimately struggles with demons from his past that created his impediment. While normally Bonham Carter plays outlandish roles, she reins herself in skillfully to play quietly caring Elizabeth. Geoffrey Rush excels as the unflinching speech therapist Lionel Logue, proving that tough love can be the most fruitful way to help patients. The solid performance of the main actors is further supported by director Tom Hooper’s ability to create anxiety around public speaking. He accomplishes this through his use of high and low shots with a wide angle lens that make each event feel nerve wracking.
My Grade: A