Written by David.
The King’s Speech is hands down the very best film of 2010.
The film opens In 1925 and we are introduced to The Duke of York: Prince Albert (played by Colin Firth), for all his life he has suffered from an incredibly debilitating speech impediment: that of an incredible stammer and stutter which results in ridicule from the rest of the royal family and the general public of the United Kingdom.
After the death of his father King George the 5th (played by Michael Gambon) and the oncoming removal of his ‘less than worthy’ brother King Edward the 7th (Guy Pearce) from the throne – Prince Albert, known by his friends and family as “Bertie” is suddenly thrust in-line to become the King. The problem is that World War 2 is about to happen, and Bertie will have to lead the country into that – with his disability this would prove difficult.
So his wife, the future Queen Mother Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) arranges for Bertie to see an unusual and bizarre Australian Speech therapist Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush). Over several years the two form a great bond and friendship as they attempt to beat Bertie’s speech impediment, and give the King the ability to inspire and lead the general public into war.
The film originated as a stage play written by David Seidler; and whilst being touted around to be performed on stage- it landed in the lap of Geoffrey Rush, who championed it to be made into a film by director Tom Hooper (‘The Damned United’ and the renowned mini-series ‘John Adams’). The Uk film council provided the film’s budget and the film was made. After winning a ton of awards at festivals it was picked up for distribution almost everywhere- and for good cause – it deserves every damn one.
The King’s Speech is the most human and profound movie of 2010. I am afraid that my review will be nothing but over the top hyperbolic statements, so I will try to keep that In check by saying very little. Whilst the movie is very historical, it places it’s human elements far far above the simple re-enactments of history. It’s very funny, sad and yet incredibly inspirational and moving. It would be a wonderful companion movie to Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours because like that film, it is about the triumph of the human spirit – but whereas that film is about the triumph of an individual – The Kings Speech is about how those who are our friends and family have the ability to change and impact us – and if not for them we would not be who we are.
One of the most important of those friends is Lionel Logue; the eccentric speech therapist(Geoffrey Rush). He is warm, funny and very fleshed out as a character, never seeming unrealistic or over-the-top even with his apparent madness. A failed actor cum speech therapist who comes to be the best friend of Bertie through their time together.
Their friendship together; and how it is developed (with the reveal of his character’s backstory and whatnot) is beautiful and memorable – they go through the ups and downs and you truly buy the gamut of their relationship. Helena Bonham Carter is also great, she has so many great moments in the film – same with Michael Gambon and Guy Pearce; the fact that the movie can fully realize so many of the background characters without short changing any of the principles or the historical aspects is nothing short of astounding.
It’s a perfect screenplay; that not only juggles so many things so expertly it is also flawlessly executed, with gorgeous cinematography (many unusual angles where chosen; as well as it being very pretty to look at) and just a mature even-handed take on the material. The director Tom Hooper has done a spectacular job- he has treated the material like a stage play; allowing for the story and characters to shine through and illustrate the themes of the movie, rather than showing off with visuals. It is not a flashy film; it is a very restrained and mature piece of work that mostly lets the performances carry the film.
And look, the performances are the real stars of the film; and I was so blown away by the lead performer that I am going to give his name a whole paragraph of its own:
If this man does not win an academy award for best actor for playing the Duke of York; I will eat a shoe. The man is just remarkable, completing dispelling any vision of Mark Darcy and Reindeer sweaters and whatnot. The thing that struck me most about his performance was how in control of it he was. When you have a character that is called to stammer and stutter; two terrible things can happen:
- The actor can focus too much on the actual speech impediment and forget to be in the moment and actually perform, and/or
- It can become comical, almost a parody – which; ever since Tropic Thunder is now called: “Going Full Retard”.
Colin Firth’s performance is so wonderful in this film- that not only does he appear to be completely in-the-moment, and not only does he have incredible chemistry with Geoffrey Rush – he actually ceases to be Colin Firth and becomes the most complex and relatable and human character in the cinema of 2010. A heartbreaking and inspiring performance – that will surely net him the Oscar as-well as go down as a career high.
Firth’s performance in this movie is the stuff that cinema lives for – and it is the chief reason why the film is so beautiful and profound. The subtleties and nuances there are amazing- it’s even the small things like the welling up of the eyes and the creaks and cracking of the voices – there is a scene early on that will melt the hearts of even the hardest people: it is of Bertie telling a bedtime story to his young girls (one of whom we know will become Queen Elizabeth) and it’s so deeply heartbreaking and sad and moving- and that scene is only the beginning of what he does in the movie!
I just can’t say enough about how deeply affecting and incredible his performance is – again I apologize for the hyperbole.
A perfect script. A perfect performance (and other great ones too). A perfect execution. Even the score by Alexandre Desplat is just beautiful. I don’t what else you could ask of this movie?
To clean up the 2010 Academy Awards?
One would hope so.
10 out of 10.
Article by David.