With the arrival of Oscar season comes the little-known movies everyone says are “exceptional.” The King’s Speech is just such a film garnering a slew of Golden Globe nominations recently. The movie boasts an effective and intriguing story about Britain’s royal family and features award winning performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
The King’s Speech tells the story of King George VI (Firth), the former Duke of York, who was never expected to be King until his brother King Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates. When George is declared King he is troubled due to his terrible stammer that prevents him from speaking. With the help of an unconventional elocution teacher (Rush), George will learn to overcome his stutter and learn what it takes to be a king under tough times.
The King’s Speech tells a wonderful, human story about a relatively little known member of the Royal Family. It seems the current generation knows little about King George compared to his wife Queen Elizabeth, played in this story by Helena Bonham Carter. The way George is portrayed throughout is so layered that you discover a new part of him as the story unfolds. George is not only a future king, but a man who is considered the “spare” and untrained in the ways of kingdom because he’s never expected to rule. The movie also delves into his relationships with his brother, King Edward and his father King George V (Michael Gambon) who tormented George for his stutter. At times George VI is a small child, desperately seeking a father figure and acceptance by others. His relationship with speech teacher Lionel Logue is so heartfelt and sweet as George is not used to encouragement from anyone, let alone a common man who should be beneath him. Aside from George’s story there’s a fair bit of screen time devoted to King Edward VIII and his relationship with Wallis Simpson, the woman who forced him into abdication, and Britain during WWI and WWII.
The acting in this movie is what will get it recognized by awards time. Firth is phenomenal as the troubled George VI who fears he’ll be compared to “Mad” King George. Firth makes the character so innocent and likeable despite his bad temper and need to assert his superiority. His relationship with Logue is such a give-and-take one that you can’t help but be swayed by their humorous dialogues, especially the profanity laced ones. Rush is also worthy of some accolades as the speech teacher who tries his damndest to get George over his stammer. Rush is both giving and demanding of his student, forever pushing him to forget his legacy and just be himself. Pearce and Carter are also as good as needed in their smaller roles.
The only issue with The King’s Speech is how much they attempt to cram into an hour and fifty minutes. The majority of the time is meant getting George over his stammer but then the movie devotes a lot of time to Edward and Wallis before hitting the climax about WWII. At times there’s three stories in once that you start to look at your watch during the halfway point. Had the movie attempted to focus on one aspect it could have flowed more fluidly. Instead the movie clunks a bit towards the end.
The King’s Speech is fantastic with one of the greatest movie speeches/monologues in recent history at its conclusion. Firth and Rush are phenomenal and the movie highlights a little known aspect of the Royal Family that might not be well known to mainstream audiences. A delight for fans of British cinema or inspirational tales.