The King’s Speech: Review!

30 Dec

Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, and Helena Bonham Carter

When I first saw the preview to this movie, I was moved by this lovely time piece.  Really, it has a lot going for it.  One, it’s pretty British.  Two, it deals with the Royal Family.  Three, it’s historical.  Four, it’s witty (in that very British way).

Now, this comes from someone who cannot fully understand accents – maybe that’s my challenge while Bertie (King George VI played by Colin Firth) is challenged by a speech impediment – and was, at times, a little confused as to just what they were saying.

Putting that aside, this was by far one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.  That very preview catches the essence of the film, but it also leaves a lot of the meatier parts and doesn’t spoil itself.

The movie follows the tale of King George VI (Bertie) as he ascends to the throne.  The one problem is that the King is a public persona, and this particular king happens to have a stuttering speech impediment.  His wife Elizabeth seeks the idiosyncratic help of speech therapist Lionel to help Bertie overcome his stammer and become a voice for the country in a time of war.

The acting is superb.  I have no doubts that Geoffrey Rush (playing Lionel Logue) will be nominated for Best Supporting Actor while Colin Firth will be nominated for Best Actor.  I believe that even Helena Bonham Carter may get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  This movie is just filled with award possibilities.

Firth and Carter

Ignoring the speculations, let’s just consider the acting.  Colin Firth nails his historical role and masters a stammer.  I feel like learning how to stammer and stutter may actually be just as hard as fixing it – if you were to have one in the first place, that is.  He really demands the focus from the audience and captures the transition within his character subtly but masterfully.

Geoffrey Rush’s plays his character as someone unafraid to stand up to Royalty as his equal.  He treats Bertie as a person, not a title.  Rush just infuses his character with delightful charm and humanity.  His character at first seems the standard witty and helpful British person, but there’s something more percolating underneath the character that Rush manages to capture.

To compliment the acting, Tom Hooper does an exquisite job as the director.  The directing takes some minor risks in a handful of shots to make this film stand out from other true story reenactments.  There is just such a sense of art behind the shots with an emphasis on patterns and lines.  My favorite part was the framing he uses.  Pay close attention to which side of the frame Bertie and Lionel occupy and how that changes over the course of the film.  It’s a simple but very effective technique.  It’s obvious that much care and thought went behind the making of this film.

The King’s Speech truly stands out from other films as a great accomplishment in acting and directing to create a memorable piece of art.

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