30 Day Film Challenge: Day Ten

Posted on May 24, 2011


The King's Speech, 2011

A Film With Your Favourite Actor (Female)

This one was slightly easier than picking a favourite actor and I was able to sit down and think it out pretty easily. Funnily enough, the actress I’m picking was also, just as Michael Sheen was, in an excellent TV movie playing a very iconic character, not terribly long ago.

Helena Bonham Carter, the last original lady in the Hollywood sphere, in many people’s eyes is also an actress that I could watch all day. Her style in reality is unusual and quirky and yet she manages to bring this exact same quirkiness to every character she plays, even if they are perfectly normal. She’s like a car crash in that you cannot look away when she’s on screen.

Last year, she played Enid Blyton in a BBC dramatisation called Enid and for all intents and purposes, played a blinder. It was an uncomfortable biopic to watch in actuality because it’s hard to believe that Enid Blyton, whose books I used to read repeatedly as a child (I wanted my own island and a Timmy the dog), was such a hard and cold hearted wagon.

There’s one amazing scene in the film when, as her first child starts crying and I think it’s the husband (Matthew Macfadyen) comes in and picks her up, she picks up the dog and seems to nurse it. Later, when said dog dies, she shows more emotion than she does for any of her children. It’s uncomfortable and shocking.

She’s turned up in pretty much every Tim Burton film (If she can’t boss the husband into giving her movie roles, she can’t boss anyone) and has been superb in them, going so far as to stretch her singing chops in Sweeney Todd – the perfect Mrs Lovett for a big screen version of the dark musical.

Most recently however, I saw and loved her in The King’s Speech. While it wasn’t a big enough or significant enough part to win her an Oscar, she did excel in the role and still managed to bring her own quirky charm to it. I’m not sure if it’s anything she actually did on screen per se or if it was just the persona that has been built around her over the years.

She plays Queen Elizabeth (Better known as the Queen Mother to this generation) with a fantastic reverence and exudes the elitism that we’ve come to expect from Royal Family figures. She is the foil to Firth’s Bertie who, more than often, lashes out and is far from the picture of propriety.

When I first heard she was taking this role, I kind of stopped and pictured her in Marla Singer clobber or Bellatrix Lestrange or pretty much anything else she’s done in her career and thought ‘it’ll never work’. But in hindsight, it couldn’t have been anyone else in that role. Not to mention the fact that it is quite simply a brilliant film and though not a lot happens in it, not a lot happens in such a charming and irresistible way that you can’t help but like it.

Someone said around Oscar time that the one film that could steal the Best Picture from The King’s Speech was The Social Network but I couldn’t see it happening and am glad it didn’t. TSN is a film about something that has changed the world but it isn’t finished changing it yet. Plus, in the great scheme of things, it’s not the same as the story of a man who had to announce that the world was at war for the second time. That, to me, has far more bit than the number of friends you have on Facebook.

But coming back to Helena Bonham Carter, judging from her body of work over the last decade or more, I honestly believe that she is incapable of giving a bad performance.

And her quirky style of fashion and personality just makes her all the more endearing.