Tom Hooper is a fucking genius, which kinda sucks as I’m going to have to watch The King’s Speech now. He absolutely nailed this movie, putting the definitive version of this story on film. It helps that he had an amazing cast led by Hugh Jackman, who has to be a favorite for Best Actor given his performance. I’m also looking at Annie Hathaway for best Supporting Actress as she left it all out there for the world to see. The rest of the cast was quite good, although Russell Crowe’s singing may get some mixed reviews. I liked it but can see how others may not. Also, Eddie Redmayne is going to be a movie star soon. I actually heard women around me react when he had his first close up and that was before he really started acting. That kid’s got it.
Hooper made some interesting choices and seemed to get them all right. He eschewed any dialogue, making this a pure musical. You don’t often see that but it worked, avoiding any break in the emotional journey the story takes you on. It was that intense and immediate that any other choice would have been the wrong one. Unlike almost every other musical he had the cast perform the songs live on camera with a piano accompanying instead of singing to playback. It allowed spontaneity of performance you haven’t seen before. He also shot all of the solos in extreme close up, another very brave choice that paid off beautifully. Full credit to the cast for going with it, what a daunting prospect that must have been. The film is beautifully photographed and truly epic in scale. I have to say I was pretty blown away by the whole thing. I’m not the most sensitive type generally, and I really teared up a few times during the film. My wife was outright weeping, and she certainly wasn’t alone.
Cool footnote: we were the very first audience to ever see the completed film. Hooper only locked the picture at 2:00AM Thursday. The audience applauded after every big number, almost as though it we were watching a live performance. It wasn’t forced at all but rather genuine appreciation for the work we saw. The picture got a lengthy standing ovation at the end which was rather lovely as Hooper and most of the cast were there. You make these things in an echo chamber and they clearly enjoyed seeing such a strong reaction.
See this movie.