The King’s Speech
Jerry Seinfeld had a joke explaining that the number one fear for people is public speaking. The second is death. Meaning you are better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. As The Simpson’s pointed out, it’s funny because it’s true. It might be wrong for me to reference television comedy in my review of such a sophisticated drama as THE KING’S SPEECH but that is precisely what this film presents in a heart-wrenching fashion of great importance.
As the second son of King George V (Michael Gambon) of England and a terrible public speaker due to an unforgiving stutter, Bertie (Colin Firth) would seem an unlikely successor to the throne. But due to some unorthodox events from his older brother, King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) he finds himself directly on that path. Prompted by his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) Bertie hires an unusual but successful Speech teacher, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Using a variety of seemingly embarrassing techniques and friendly therapy Lionel must help Bertie overcome his speaking handicap to lead a nation and become King George VI.
Colin Firth portrays the nervous stuttering King to be to perfection. From every look and nuance to his pauses and troubled talk he embodies the character. Firth has shown his brilliance and versatility before but this performance locks him into one of the greatest category. I have always been a fan but now when asked the question about great actors; I will remember to bring up his name. I would be remised if I didn’t give props to his supporting cast. The ensemble really is a wonder. Specifically Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter who will be receiving Oscar Nominations of their own. Rush is also in that category of great proving himself time and time again. He has a natural ease as the peculiar speech therapist. Bonham Carter is sweet and caring as a supportive wife, a long ways away from her Bellatrix Lestrange character and Tim Burton movies.
The Score, Art Direction and Cinematography were superb. Director Tom Hooper deserves a ton of credit for using interesting camera techniques to put the audience in the mindset of public speaking. Each journey Bertie took, entering a room or stadium filled with multiple people all looking at him came through clearly. Each time was as if the audience was in his position. Then when the camera turned to Bertie, it was tight in as if each eye was piercing over every part of his face. The pressure was felt and the long pauses were uncomfortable. Every angle had a purpose creating the illusion that you were there. Even simple moments of Bertie and Lionel’s first introduction had an interesting feel setting each character off a little more than usual, placing each of them all the way to the end of the screen, creating a sort of wall against space.
Few films can emotionally invest an audience creating an intense humorous look as something as perceivably mundane as speech. THE KING’S SPEECH is a fascinating portrayal of a King’s journey overcoming a stuttering speech impediment. Somehow the film takes this clever topic and reveals a serious global and personal importance on a seemingly simple talent. THE KING’S SPEECH is definitely one of the better films of the year and I foresee it having continued success receiving award nominations in practically every category.