The King's Speech (2010) (R)
Tom Hooper's instant classic "The King's Speech" is a work of sublime beauty and great dignity. The movie, keenly written by David Seidler, follows the ascension to the throne of George VI.
Albert Frederick Arthur George, the Duke of York at the movie's opening, has a speech problem. He can scarcely get a sentence out without stuttering or stammering. It's the late 1930s and the invention of the radio is propelling a need to be in constant contact with those in power. The current king, King George V (Albert's father) is recognizing that need and sending out radio broadcasts on Christmas. He tells his son that the radio will change the monarchy forever.
But there's a problem with the throne. As George V is dying, the monarchy will fall to Albert's older brother, David.
David is in the middle of an affair with a married woman named Wallace Simpson. As king, he is the head of the Church of England and as such cannot be expected to be received if he's seeing a married woman. David decides that he wants to marry Wallace and she's going to get a divorce from her husband. But it is still unacceptable for a king to be married to a divorced woman so David abdicates the throne and Albert takes it, taking the title 'George VI' when he does.
As war looms with Germany, this unwanted throne is thrust in Albert's lap causing great pressure to be placed on the king's shoulders.
But Albert can't deliver speeches. He's tried all sorts of therapies, from smoking to trying to hold seven marbles in his mouth while reciting the prose of famous authors.
He swears that he will never see another therapist again, but then his wife stumbles across a man named Lionel Logue.
Lionel's approaches are radically different from Albert's other physicians. He's got a wicked sense of wit, which he never tames, not even in the future king's presence. Logue believes that the source of Albert's stammering is an internal one. Something that may have happened in the past but is unknown to Albert. This slightly Freudian viewpoint lets Logue gain a relationship with Albert. Alas, politics comes along and complicates matters.
"The King's Speech" isn't just about George VI, for a biopic, it's very relatable. The story of Albert is one of gaining courage and speaking out, even when it's hard.
Colin Firth plays Albert/George VI and his performance is one of the best ever. The way he carries himself and moves from scene to scene with effortless ease is staggeringly impressive. He's such a troubled man, yet Firth doesn't overplay him. It's sensational and riveting, very much deserving of the Oscar it garnered Colin Firth.
The supporting cast is Helena Bonham Carter as Albert's wife Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue. Both of these actors are known for choosing bizarre and cooky roles but here they both show remarkable restraint in front of the camera.
The direction is fabulous and won Tom Hooper an Oscar.
All-in-all, "The King's Speech" is a crowd pleaser. It's light and happy but smart enough to carry itself.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones