Movie Review: The King\’s Speech (2010)

| 28 December , 2010 | Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed By: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

In 1925, Prince Albert, the young Duke of York (magnificently played by Colin Firth), is tasked with partaking in the new world of public broadcasting. His crippling speech impediment seems to be the only thing that stands between him and inheriting his father’s place on the throne. But Albert can hardly even tell his children a bedtime story, so a public speech presents an unimaginable difficulty. Having tried every form of therapy, the Duke is taken as a last resort to see an unorthodox Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (another superb performance by Geoffrey Rush), and what begins is a remarkable friendship that transcends class and the constraints of royalty.

This is an amusing and moving historical drama that draws its appeal from a number of interesting facets. It touches on many historic and also deeply human moments that elevate its charm and depth, from the momentous cultural shift marked by the advent of radio and mass broadcasting, to the touching and compelling portrait of Prince Albert as he embarks on the challenges, relationships, and events that lead up to him giving his first public broadcast as King George VI. In essence a story of the most unusual friendship at the highest of levels, this is a warm and unexpectedly uplifting piece.

Colin Firth has developed a long career as one of Britain\’s most recognisable actors, and it was perhaps the two occasions that he played Mr. Darcy – in the BBC\’s Pride and Prejudice and in Bridget Jones’s Diary – that helped cement him in the romantic lead stereotype for many of us. In The King’s Speech, he veers away from this stereotype. Firth previously caught the attention of the Oscar committee with his brilliant performance in The Single Man, but his performance here as a stammering, stumbling, but passionately.

The main pairing, of course, is between Firth and Australia\’s own Geoffrey Rush, and Rush is handed a meaty role that perfectly shows off his versatile dramatic talents. In addition, Helena Bonham Carter is well cast as a young Elizabeth the first, as she carefully sheds a warm light on the woman most of us only recently knew as the slightly hard-edged Queen\’s mother. It has indeed been too long since we’ve seen Carter in a role purely for the pleasure of adults. Hopefully, there are many more like it to come.

At the film\’s Australian premiere in Sydney, Director Tom Hooper was quick to affirm his support for the Oscar buzz surrounding the film\’s stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, while playfully describing their mutual admiration as ‘a triangle of man love\’. He said, ‘It was a bit of a dream but not only are there such an incredible cast but they are profoundly nice people. My admiration grew for them and theirs for each other.\’

And on directing Colin Firth through what appeared to be an intensively physical performance, Hooper said, ‘It was one of those weird things that his pain meant that we were doing well. Colin admitted that there was a point in the shoot where he was no longer in control of the stammer, he was so far inside the character, that he would stammer on his own.\’

Geoffrey Rush was also on hand at the Sydney premiere to celebrate his role in what is clearly thought to be a special film. ‘When I heard about the then play, I was attracted to the role initially because he was an Aussie. I knew all about the big historical elements of the plot, but I knew nothing about Lionel Logue. So when I read the initial script I couldn\’t get my head around how they met. They were from different classes and different worlds; I thought this had the ingredients for a great dramatic story.\’

As for his thoughts on working with Colin Firth, Rush said: ‘When we were filming, it was when Colin was also promoting A Single Man and when I saw that film at the London Festival I had to admire what seemed like an extraordinary career risk for this actor, brave, bold and fulfilling, who has been in film\’s such as Bridget Jones and St Trinian\’s, and who had become a genuine heartthrob. During the filming of The King\’s Speech we were often face to face and I was watching in close-up a real master class.\’

This fine film is busily attracting a whole deluge of accolades and critical acclaim – all of it deserved.

The King\’s Speech is in cinemas now.


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Category: Film & TV

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