Monday, January 17, 2011

The King's Speech: Or why I want to fight the tyranny of romantic love

I came out of the theatre last night after watching The King’s Speech feeling... literally... breathless. Colin Firth played the stammering King George VI so convincingly that every time he stuttered on screen, he would engulf me into his breathlessness, suffocation, shame and desperation. Since the whole film is about words trapped inside his throat struggling to come out, I felt like I had spent an hour-and-half locked inside a windowless cell struggling to breathe. Little wonder that he won the golden globe last night for the best dramatic actor of the year.

Now that I am happily married and sorted, I find my choice of films greatly diminished. I enjoy films about people, their predilections and preoccupations. But the only emotion that Hollywood (and Bollywood for what its worth) thinks worth exploring is romantic love. Only, I am fairly happy and conflict-less regarding that aspect of my life and would prefer to engage in dramas beyond that. 

Which is why The King’s Speech was a lovely change. The King was happily married, like me. His conflict was essentially occupational – as royalty, his biggest responsibility was public appearances and speeches, and a stammer essentially rendered him useless. And can't we all relate to that feeling: haven’t we all, at some point or the other, felt not up to the job given to us?

We all have a life beyond love. Our relationships extend to brothers, sisters, friends, parents, colleagues, children, and most importantly, ourselves. And yet, such few films ever look at the vicissitudes of these relationships.

That made me think of my top 5 emotional, human drama films that were not about romantic love (yes, in case you are wondering, I just finished Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity).

The King’s Speech – because it is so fresh in my mind.

In Her Shoes – because it looked at the love between sisters, one of the most ignored relationships in films, and managed to say something interesting about it. As one of three sisters, I connected to it immediately.

The Darjeeling Ltd – because it was about brothers and that intangible sibling bond that can survive so much upheaval, distance and long periods of non-communication.

Taare Zameen Par – Ok, I concede it was a grossly exaggerated, Bollywood-style, emotional drama. But the struggles of the bright but dyslexic, misunderstood child made me cry by the bucketload.

Lost in Translation – Because it was about the most important relationship in our lives, the one we have with ourselves.

If you have any additions, suggestions and deletions you are most welcome to share.

Virginia (see comment section) has reminded me of Little Miss Sunshine and Royal Tenenbaums. Royal Tenenbaums was definitely a contender in my mind, but I decided to go with The Darjeeling Ltd for look at sibling relationships. But missinng out on Little Miss Sunshine was definitely a gaffe on my part. All the same, I can't decide between LMS and In her Shoes, so need help through your votes.



Virginia said...

I would add "Little Miss Sunshine", "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "La bestia nel cuore" (, an Italian drama about family, abuse and why it's important to deal with the scars and trauma of the past to live the future.

globalbabble said...

Yes, of course. Little ms sunshine. How could I forget? Ok, It's a toss-up between In Her Shoes and Little Ms Sunshine. Let me create an online poll.

Cognitive Bias said...

Not sure if "What's Eating Gibert Grape" fits the bill here, it definitely is a movie close to my heart. The movie is centered around two brothers, but there is a lot more to it!

globalbabble said...

Oh yes, that was one strange, moving film wasn't it? And yes, it was about family too. And Dicaprio playing a retard - who would have thought he would become star that he has!

Anonymous said...

"The King's Speech" is a wonderful film, thanks to phenomenal acting. However, it does distort the actual history between the Royal Family and the Nazis a bit:

jaimit said...

you know - when i saw tare zameen par the first time i cried. the second time i saw it to show it to a friend - surprise surprise - i cried again. how did that happen? i did not expect my self to cry the second time!

globalbabble said...

@Jaimit: Taare Zameen Par was the first Hindi film Sid & I went to watch together. And I cried so much throughout the film that Sid nearly panicked. I am glad the theatre was practically empty!

shIrIn said...

the non-romantic love reminds me of 'The bucket list'. it was heartening to see the kind of relationship two dying men shared with each other...another addition to the list from my side...:)

globalbabble said...

@Shirin: haven't seen the Bucket List, but yes, few films look at old people at all...