The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper (2010)
jusco’s Rating: ★★★★
Bravo Colin Firth. Bravo Geoffrey Rush. Bravo Helena Bonham Carter. Bravo Tom Hooper, David Seidler and team. The King’s Speech is a great film. The start felt a bit under-par but it decidedly improved tremendously. It was a sure relief to find what the hype promoted in the first place. Based on the actual King George VI, it follows his stammering problem and an ‘unorthodox’ speech therapist who attempts to cure him of it. All this while, the King is lovingly supported by his dear wife, played by Carter (was this really the same person who acted as crazy Bellatrix? It can’t be!). Accompanied by the captivating classical soundtrack and deft, refreshing interior shots, the film is a brilliant historical piece that is an absolute delight to watch.
Colin Firth is marvelous. He most certainly deserves the Oscar this year, and Geoffrey Rush, in my opinion, even more so. It is the communication and the playfulness and the arguments between the two, the delicate balance between the fine line of hierarchy and friendship, played so naturally that truly shines. The plot is by no means complex, neither is it very exceptional (it is historical after all, but you may argue history is always exciting and exceptional), but it thrives on the strength of the performances; but then again, could you expect anything less from such a strong cast?
Firth plays the stammering King who never fails to embarrass himself and the government (and us for that matter) when he is obliged to make public speeches. One can only imagine how much practise and studying Firth put into his role. Every little detail, every calculated move of the mouth seems effortless. At times, it may feel a bit over-exaggerated, but on a whole realistic and passable; it’s a dramatic film after all so space must be given for creative conveyance. His transition from being unable to produce one single word from his mouth to his gradual improvement of saying, slowly of course, a string of words at a time is superbly carried out.
But Geoffrey Rush, who plays his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who quite honestly doesn’t give a damn that his patient is royalty, is the standout. He is both the catalyst to the story in its serious and humourous aspects; drawing out the King’s personal matters and uptight emotions by means of both wise words of wisdom and silly mouth exercises. It’s an absolute delight to watch the pair.
Ultimately, The King’s Speech is a tale of courage; one can only imagine the fright and anxiety that accompanied the attempt to break such a problem, but it is heartwarming to see him overcome this with the unlimited, gracious support of his friends, both old and new. It may not be as thought-provoking as one may expect, but sometimes it is the simplest of messages that are the most important. It is at times excruciating to watch – it is nerve-wrecking to watch King George VI when he steps on to the podium – and at times utterly hilarious – a montage of Lionel’s exercises schemes as well as a scene that involves the King spewing multiple vulgarities, all for the sake of helping him speak better will have you laughing loudly. This film adeptly conveys what is important and what all humans, despite their rank or class or role, need, that is the love and support to do the unimaginable (poor George, his was to take over England at the start of WWII; what braver man is there?). The film ends with a powerful and moving speech by the King, accompanied with Lionel who maintains the humour to the very end. It’s a pleasure to watch as by the end, the two realise their friendship, their brotherhood, and it is this heartwarming revelation that we all desperately need in times of great trial. It most certainly helped King George VI.