The King’s Speech: Well Spoken

January 23, 2011

The King’s Speech, UK, 2010

Directed by Tom Hooper

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush give masterful performances and make the film enjoyableWith class A performances and a beautifully shot back drop, Top Hooper’s historical recount of King George VI’s rise to the throne is a cinematic treasure. Historical dramas are often among the most difficult to film because they either offend historian’s by straying too far with creative license, or follow a very nondramatic and predictable line. The King’s Speech does neither and delivers on all aspects of high film art and story.

Albert, Duke of York, son of King George V (Colin Firth), is dealing with a severe speech stammer that is revealed to the public at his 1925 Empire Exhibition address at Wembley Stadium. His father, George V, who becomes the first British monarch to speak over the radio, presenting a Christmas address, explains that the radio has required monarchs to adapt their manner and speech to gain their subject’s favor. They are no longer able to satisfy the public by “looking dignified” and “staying upright on a horse.” Albert’s older brother, David (Guy Pearce), is next in line to inherit the thrown, but he shuns his responsibilities for his attraction to an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson (Eve Best).

With the aid of his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) Albert seeks to overcome his speech impediment, which has robbed him of his belief in himself. After trying and failing, he quits out of frustration. Looking for more unorthodox methods, Elizabeth discovers Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist now living in London. Logue agrees to help the Duke but under the condition that they forgo with royal formalities and allow Albert’s treatment to take place in the privacy of his studio. While there, “Bertie” and Logue begin the hard road to eventual recovery, as well as a long lasting friendship. David, unable to marry Wallis because of his status, steps down and Albert becomes king. Albert makes much progress with his condition with Logue’s help, but soon after he must face his biggest challenge as England enters war with Nazi Germany.

The king is called upon to deliver a speech that will uplift his people and prepare them for difficult days ahead. With Logue at his side, the king tries to summon the strength to once and for all overcome his affliction and be the leader his country desperately needs.

Both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush give masterful performances which makes the film enjoyable, even for non history buffs. The film is grounded in human relationships that ring true in every case portrayed. Strong supporting performances are given by Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. Don’t miss this while it is still in the theaters!

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