Sunday, December 5, 2010

A movie review: The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech (2010)
Director - Tom Hooper
118 min; R
Colin Firth - King George VI
Geoffrey Rush - Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter - Queen Elizabeth

Oscar season is officially open for business.

The King's Speech is a remarkable movie in that it perfectly executes the tying together of everything you want in a film: strong acting from every character; a well defined plot based on an interesting premise; a wonderful score; emotionally satisfying.

With WWII looming ever closer and his brother having just abdicated his seat on the throne so that he could marry a twice divorced American woman, Albert (Colin Firth) is thrust into a position he never anticipated. Taking the name King George VI he is to rule the monarchy as it enters war and he knows he must emote a strong and confident demeanor. There is one problem - he has a severe and persistent stutter. The film opens with an emotionally charged scene of Albert in 1925 as he addresses a crowd at the closing ceremonies of the British Empire Exposition at Wembley Stadium. Stepping to the microphone all goes wrong as he completely freezes. With his wife's (Helena Bonham Carter - the future Queen Elizabeth) ongoing support Bertie (his nickname to only his closest family and friends) goes through a multitude of speech therapists in pursuit of solving his problem. It is the eventual meeting with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) that will forever change his life. Working together closely and running the gauntlet of highs and lows, Logue works feverishly to help the, first future king, and later king as the film leads up to its most pivotal scene - the 9 minute war time declaration speech to broadcast around the world.

At the heart of the film is the relationship between Bertie and Lionel. It is such an unlikely friendship between two very big personalities that it effortlessly leads to high emotional points but surprisingly also lends itself to some very funny scenes and comments, something you may not see coming in this type of film. Firth, Rush and Bonham Carter are all excellent in their roles and it would be no surprise to me to see any of them nominated for multiple awards (though the queen's role may be too limited to be considered.)

If you enjoyed Frost/Nixon (2008) then this film is definitely for you. How can you make something that is known suspenseful? This film uses a wonderful score by Alexandre Desplat who has a long list of credits to his name int he film industry. The film never drags because it does such a wonderful job at weaving different story lines together yet never forgetting that this is the story of a unique friendship. If you enjoy this film like I did you may also find yourself looking up more information about the true history of this story - something I am finding to be very interesting.

***** out of 5

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