An English curse – Trying to predict the eventual success or demise of any British film can be one of the hardest things to do. The reason for this is simply due to the fact most people will not “get it.” They may think they do or hope for one kind of story, but when it doesn’t go that way, they can’t wait to head for the door. That’s the truth that has plagued so many British films from having that coveted domestic success at the box office. So, naturally when something like “The King’s Speech” comes along, the skepticism begins and unless it gets nominated, no one will ever know it was even out. That’s too bad, because films like “The King’s Speech” should really be seen for anyone who appreciates the art of acting and how powerful it can be when given the right forum.
What’s the story, anyway? For once the title of the film gives you a clue into the overall premise, but essentially it all follows the Duke of York (Colin Firth), a.k.a. son of King George V and his stammering dialect. Determined to fix it, the Duke would seek the help for several speech therapists, but to after numerous failed attempts, he gave up. That was when his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) went behind his back and asked Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) for help. Upon finding this out, the Duke agreed to meet Logue and the rest they say, is history. But, unlike those marriages that start out well, this one between Logue and the Duke did not. In fact, after that first meeting, the Duke promised not to return, unimpressed with Logue’s radical methods. But, as he walked out, Logue handed the Duke the recording of what they did that day for as he called it, a “souvenir” or “keepsake.” So, naturally when the Duke played the record later that night, he found his dialect to be as clear as can be, with absolutely no stammer. That meant Logue’s treatment worked and thus, treatment began for the Duke to fix his stammer once and for all. But, shortly after that, King George died leaving the throne to the Duke’s brother Edward (Guy Pearce), who then decided to choose an American divorcee over being King. It was then this story turned upside down as the Duke was given the throne and forced to used his new speaking skills when his country needed him the most, all resulting in a conclusion that may make you want to stand up and cheer.
Acting out – When I first saw anything on “The King’s Speech” I thought it looked like something that might get nominated. Not because of the title or premise, because of who was in it. Let’s face it, when you start with Geoffrey Rush, anything after that will be decent, so to then add the likes of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter makes this one of those film’s that will undoubtedly breed great acting. How could it not; so for once knowing that going in only helped you enjoy the performances that much more. And many will look no further than Colin Firth, but to me, he couldn’t have done what he did without the help of Geoffrey Rush, who managed to surprise me yet again with something new.
Able to pull back and not overpower certain scenes with Firth was crucial for the story, which demanded it. That and a perfectly casted Helena Bonham Carter helped this film go from good to great, so while I could on and on about Rush and Carter, Firth still had to do his job. I mean, just willing to take on this role of a King with a stammer like this is tough, so to see the patience and will of Firth was impressive. All the mannerisms and aspects of what would make this tough for someone is seen through the action of Firth, who was absolutely brilliant. To watch Firth work through this stammer on the big screen was unreal and the more you watched, the more he drew you into the ups and downs of his character dealing with this struggle so many of us rarely get to witness, but one we know is there for so many leaders given a platform to speak from.
A piece of cake? – Any film like “The King’s Speech” will be judged by its cast, but to me that’s wrong. The script still needs to be written in a way that allows the cast to shine and without a director, how can they be in the right position to make an impact? It may seem easy, but all this doesn’t always happen in films, so I credit director Tom Hooper for ensuring his cast had plenty of room to work with using the incredible script penned by David Seidler. Without that, there’s no way the audience could enjoy a film like this, because the fact of the matter is, there isn’t a whole lot of action. Most of this film centers on a speech, so creating anticipation around that is remarkable when you start to break it all down. Seeing Firth’s character overcome something like this was unique and actually very enjoyable to watch over the course of this film. Add in the incredible set designs and this makes for the perfect film to be nominated this time of year.
Bottom Line – A lot will be said on “The King’s Speech” and how deserving Colin Firth is of an Oscar. And while I cannot disagree with that notion, to me this film came down to one thing, appearance. Had it not had that “look” we talk about each time a period piece gets released on the big screen, I wouldn’t even be talking about it, which in the end should tell you everything you need to know about the validity of a film like this.
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