Directed by Tom Hooper. Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter.
The widely awarded film (based on true events) about a reluctant King George the sixth who stuttered and had a short temper but eventually gave inspiring speeches to his country during the Second World War is a brilliant amalgamation of film elements and acting.
What can you say about a film that has won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler) and Best Actor (Firth) at this year’s Oscar awards? Na-na-na…. nothing… all-all-all-although perhaps, su-su-sum-asumthing. I’m not mocking people who stutter or stammer here. I myself used to do it when I got riled up or befuddled with something. What’s interesting in The King’s Speech is that Duke of York, Prince Albert’s speech impediment is never something you laugh at or get frustrated with. Firth has masterfully taken this ‘defect’, often irritating for both speaker and listener, and made it endearing almost. As his wife Elizabeth (Bonham Carter) says to him, it’s his stammer that made her love him.
His royal duties require him to make speeches on the newly invented radio wire and since his ageing father the king (Michael Gambon) is ailing his duties would only increase. Reluctantly, after many hack doctors have finished stuffing marbles in his mouth ala My Fair Lady, his wife hooks him up with Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush) whose unorthodox techniques and at-first-frowned-upon familiarity (calling the Prince ‘Bertie’) actually start working for him.
Some of us may know about Edward, the king of England who abdicated as he wanted to marry a divorcee. And since Albert was next in line, the royal duty was thrust upon him thus creating King George VI. And this at a time when Hitler was marching across Europe and Britain would eventually have to declare war on Germany. There’s a scene in the film the royal family is watching the news talkies and Hitler’s army is shown marching as he orates in his particular vociferous fashion. The King notices and comments on this. Realisation that speaking well and seeking help were well worth his time and embarrassment.
The chemistry between Rush and Firth is simply marvellous. The two bond like bosom brothers and the repartee between their characters bounces off so fluidly that you revel in the charm, intellect, wit and brilliance of the screenplay and the acting not once feeling like the plot is stuttering or spluttering before you.
Sure, this is a feel good film, an inspirational tale that has been milked for all those moments of triumph. And in my humble opinion it has been done with good effect. I didn’t feel the triumph in the still commendable film The Fighter (read review), which is what had disappointed me about it.
The King’s Speech has all the elements that make a film good including a charming instrumental background score by Alexandre Desplat. Colin Firth, with his masterful performance, made this film great.