THE KINGS SPEECH
By Gary Dean Murray
Starring Colin Firth, Geoffery Rush, Michael Gambon. Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter
Written by David Seldler
Directed by Tom Hooper
Running time 111 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
There are films that, when given the synopsis, sound dreadful. Such is The King's Speech, the story of George VI getting over a speech impediment. If one dismissed The King's Speech on such a thumbnail sketch, they will miss one of the best films of 2010.
The story starts at a broadcast where Prince Bertie Windsor (Colin Firth) has to deliver a speech. It is to be broadcast on that new invention called radio. The man is petrified. He has a hard stammer since he was a boy and still stumbles over words. His father the king knows that the monarchy must be with the times and must be able to rally the common people with the advent of wireless. The speech is an abject failure
Mrs. Windsor (Helena Bonham Carter) decides to take matters into her own hands and visits Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush) an Australian living in England. He is a failed actor who has many unusual ideas about getting to the problem of speech impediments. Not too soon, Lionel realizes that his newest client is also his most important one. The Prince, used to a certain way of doing things, doesn't like the manner that Lionel uses on the Royal Person. It is a clash between these two men and the way they eventually bond that makes up the bulk of The King's Speech.
The film is not just about elocution. It is also about a time of great winds of war in Europe. Across the channel, Hitler is amassing an army that threatens all of the nations. While some just believe that The Fuhrer is a loud mouth politician, others see the writing on the wall and that war is going to happen again. While the King (Michael Gambon) tried to prepare both his subjects and his family for what is to come, there is trouble in the palace.
The future king of England is Edward VIII (Guy Pearce). He is much more of a playboy than a future king, living the life of privilege. He is also living with a lady of questioned morals Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). As the king dies, Edward realizes that he does not want to be head of the monarchy but wants to have fun with his little plaything. The country needs a strong ruler and that duty will fall on Prince Bertie. As all the machination of Bertie becoming George VI happen, the man realizes that he needs Lionel to help him get over the stammer and lead his people to war.
The King's Speech is full of Academy worthy performances. Colin Firth shows the audience a man at the crossroads of history. It is a role that he was never meant to be a part of but must endure. There is this quality of noble dread with the work, a man who never expected to take on the title of king, must less leading his country into a very dangerous and unexpected war against a towering foe. He sees that the world rests on his shoulders and he must somehow find the inner courage to take on the task.
Helena Bonham Carter does something she seldom gets to do on the Silver Screen, she gets to play a normal character. Even though she is the wife of the King, she is a woman of place. When Lionel's wife walks into her little flat and sees the Queen in her home, the woman is dumbfounded. Helena tells her in a very matter of fact flippant way, "First address me as Your Majesty then after that Ma'am." She is supremely confident with the role.
Of all the leads, Geoffery Rush seems to be having the most fun. As our failed Aussie actor, he is a man who knows his vocal tricks, even though he isn't a true doctor. There is this "gee whiz" feeling with the performance, like a kid locked in the candy shop. He just oozes with thrills as he prods the future king to discover he basis of the vocal problems. The two actors work well together finding the right beat between extremes of love and hate.
Director Tom Hooper has taken the David Seldler script and found a right setting of time and place with The King's Speech. The audience gets a true feeling of both the swift changes of the world turning with the Industrial Revolution and the extreme growing pains of a world getting smaller. The destructive challenge of conflict, both external and internal, are in the lens of Mr. Hooper as we are exposed to a World War brewing on people who do not want or wish it.
The King's Speech is another bullet gunning for the target known as Oscar. With stunning sets, perfect costumes and a compelling story, it has a solid shot for being considered one of the best of the year.