The Kings Speech
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Review by: Larry Thomas
It’s a rare occurrence when a film comes along that is so good in every possible way that it eclipses all the competition. Such is the case with The King's Speech. At first glance, you may think that a tale of one of Britain’s Royal Family who has a serious stutter might be pretty dry stuff. Not so. It’s one of the most engaging, warm, human stories put on film in years.
Colin Firth, in what is likely to be his Oscar-winning performance, plays The Duke of York, son of King George V, and brother of David, soon to become King Edward VIII. The younger brother is living in the shadows of these larger than life personalities. Further hampering his development as a Royal personage is a stutter so intense that any kind of personal appearance requiring speaking is always a major disaster.
His wife, Elizabeth, is Helena Bonham Carter, and she is determined to find some way to help her husband conquer his problem. She’s tried every possible physician and speech therapist for years, but no improvement is made. She encourages the Duke to try an Australian speech therapist who seems to have remarkable success. Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush plays him with dry wit and great warmth. In their initial meetings the Duke has no hope, and the therapist never accepts “no” as an answer. What develops between these two is a great friendship forged from hard work, respect and admiration.
As scripted by David Seidler, who, until now, has worked primarily in television, all these people come to vivid life on screen. The dialogue is witty, and in places, very funny. The direction by Tom Hooper, a veteran of BBC Television, is pretty near perfect. The film looks good, has a pace that never lags, and best of all, when the film ends, you wish there were more.
French composer Alexandre Desplat contributes another marvelous score to his growing list of credits, and also makes some good use of Beethoven as well.
But first and foremost in The King's Speech are the performances. Colin Firth puts so much into his portrayal that you believe he is a man with a stutter, not an actor playing a man with a stutter. He is warm and genuine, yet terrified as he is thrust into the forefront of matters of state. Helena Bonham Carter is charming, strong and very much in love with her husband. It’s a far cry from all the strange characters she plays in Tim Burton’s films. And Geoffrey Rush is larger than life as the unorthodox therapist who harbors his own secrets. It’s a true pleasure to watch these three use their acting skills with such a high degree of success.
The supporting cast includes Derek Jacoby, Timothy Spall, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Ehle, and Claire Bloom, all of whom do fine work in their respective assignments.
The King's Speech is, in every sense of the word, a very moving picture, and one that’s not to be missed. In fact, given the Motion Picture Academy’s fondness for things British, I’m guessing it may very well win the Oscar for Best Picture, as well as Best Actor. In a couple of weeks when I do my Ten Best List of 2010, this will be number one.
The most unfortunate thing about this film is the rating. Once again, the ratings board has handed out an R-rating solely for some coarse language that’s no worse than any you might hear in high school hallways. The dreaded “F” word is used as part of a speech exercise and is one of the very funny scenes in the film. It’s not used in a salacious, sexual, or threatening manner. If you pick your films based solely on ratings, pretend this doesn’t have one.
The R-rated The King's Speech is not showing everywhere, but you should be able to find a location fairly near you.