The King’s Speech
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce
Running Time: 1 hr 58 mins
Release Date: December , 2010
PLOT: This is the story of King George VI (Firth) of Britain. He has a speech impediment but through the help of his therapist (Rush), attempts to overcome it.
WHO’S IT FOR? Do you like award winners? Check it out. Also, Who doesn’t like Firth? Everyone doesn’t not like him, am I right? Hm, that seems like a bad start for a film about the power of communication.
EXPECTATIONS: Um, didn’t you read my “Who’s it For?” Who doesn’t like Firth? And Rush is a favorite as well, right? Firth had my favorite performance last year with A Single Man so I was ready for more.
Colin Firth as King George VI: The story doesn’t start him off as King and thank goodness for that because most of the joy comes from the time leading up to it. First off, it’s such a technically compelling performance that Firth should be commended just on his perfect struggles with speech. Second, my god your heart goes out to this character who I would like to call Bertie from this point on. It’s always a little tough to feel sorry for someone who leads a life of royalty, but not here. He wears his childhood pains still on his sleeves and most importantly his lips. You’re desperate for this King to succeed.
Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue: Yes, I will simply call you Lionel. He’s friendly, honest, charming, funny and caring as long as it’s on his terms. Every time he wants to help, you want the student to sit and learn. Lionel is cutting edge compared to the rest of the speech impediment world. Whenever a period piece has someone who’s cutting edge, it’s nice because you pretty much understand that one day they’ll be proved correct. Lionel has that going for him plus a bit of a surprising edge that isn’t brought up until we’re well into the story.
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth: It’s a smallish role but the presence of Carter as the Queen easily makes up for it. I love the moment that she shares with her husband, explaining what she thought life would be like with him. She’s the perfect kind of helpful through all of Bertie’s difficulties.
Michael Gambon as King George V: Man, it’s seems Gambon is always dying in his British flicks, though I don’t think Snape is behind this one. And no, you can’t be upset with me for spoiling. George V realizes kings have to become actors with the advent and importance of radio.
Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII: The man who didn’t want to be king. It takes a little while to introduce this character and it feels slightly underdeveloped. Pearce looks like he’s using a little aging makeup or maybe it’s just been a long time since Memento.
TALKING: There’s lots of it and it’s beautiful to watch the training that Lionel puts Bertie through. The back and forth is superb and so much fun. Think about that degree of difficulty considering the stutter. This is the first time the Prince has been asked to deal with his emotionally problems and for a common man to bring that to light is a great dynamic to watch.
SIGHTS: I’ve done a little bit of radio in my life and it never had the elegance and beauty that they are able to show here. The rest is bleak, just like England should be. Winston Churchill is like a caricature, but I think that will always be the case with certain historical figures. There are some slight cinematography moments like shots from high above that have an impressive use of space. Plus, the office where they do their sessions looks like a cross between an insane asylum and art museum.
SOUNDS: There is power in the silence with all of the pauses in Bertie’s speeches. There is sweet, quiet piano for most of the musical score. Some classical music also plays an important role. Also, the final moment with the King’s speech is punched up in a beautiful way.
BEST SCENE: I am a sucker for training montages. Even with that said, I have to go for the final speech.
ENDING: Loved it. I had the same feeling as with 127 Hours. Even though there is potential for tragedy, the human spirit is perfectly showcased.
QUESTIONS: Are the early speeches factual records?
REWATCHABILITY: I’m make this quick and clear … yes.
Your new dynamic duo … Firth and Rush! It’s like a relationship with these two. Even at one point Lionel declares he hasn’t told his wife about the Prince (to great comedic effect).
This is a “based on a true story” that I had no idea about. For the most part, the American education system never focuses on the former Kings of England, especially not when it comes to World War II and Winston Churchill.
The King’s Speech feels like a play in the best way possible. Sometimes I say that to mean that the story is small, or limited in space or, most likely … the acting is forced. None of that is true with this film. It’s on my short list for best of the year.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10