And the Academy Award goes to…
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce & Michael Gambon
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Screenplay by: David Seidler
The story of King George VI’s impromptu ascension to the throne and how he battled a speech impediment with the help of Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue.
You could be forgiven for thinking that The King’s Speech is just another crowd pleasing, Oscar baiting, historical costume drama; essentially it is just that. But thankfully, Tom Hooper’s film has so much more to offer.
The script by playwright David Seidler very neatly transforms history into a healthy blend of drama, emotion and wit. Seidler’s screenplay, which was originally intended as a play, allows Firth and Rush to interact with each other through beautifully written dialogue, as if they were actually on stage. The scenes between Firth’s eventual King George and Rush’s speech therapist Lionel Logue are an absolute joy to watch. From Logue’s unconventional methods – rolling George around on the carpet, insisting on calling him “Bertie” – through to the growing friendship the couple gradually build, The King’s Speech is simply wonderful. Best Picture? Best Bromance would be more fitting.
If it wasn’t for the Academy finally giving the great Jeff Bridges his due at last year’s Oscar ceremony, Colin Firth’s name above the title of The King’s Speech would most certainly say ‘Oscar winner’ rather than ‘Oscar Nominee’, but fear not because that will soon change by the time Colin’s next film rolls out. His performance here is a career best for the likable Brit. From the opening scene in which George freezes during a speech at the British Empire Exhibition where his stammer completely takes over his vocals, through to the final moments in which the King delivers a rousing, stutter-free speech to the nation as they prepare to go to war with Germany, Firth’s towering performance is a marvellous achievement.
Completing the other half of the films central relationship is of course the brilliant Geoffrey Rush, who delivers all of Logue’s eccentricity with aplomb and at the same time brings genuine emotion and dignity to the Aussie character. Helena Bonham Carter’s subtle performance as George’s wife Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother meanwhile is beautifully realised, with the usually kooky actress completely dialling it back to deliver bags of emotion with just a simple gesture or facial expression. Also on hand is the ever-reliable Guy Pearce as George’s older brother Edward, who effortlessly nails the charm and arrogance of his character in just a handful of scenes.
Tender, heartfelt, uplifting and even hilarious in places – wait till you see the funniest outburst of “fucks” and “shits” since Steve Martin lost the plot in Planes, Trains And Automobiles – The King’s Speech is undeniably one of the finest films you will see this year.