The King’s Speech is a powerful film about leadership and believing in oneself, fueled by an outstanding ensemble performance it is one of the best made films of the year. Colin Firth (Love Actually) is terrific, and for someone who earns most of his living making rom-coms, he will be up for his second Academy Award in a row. This year he will be a serious contender in the race for Best Actor, as well as the rest of the cast.
The film is based around the speech impediment problem King George VI had before he became King of England. Firth plays George (who was originally named Albert). The film opens with Albert, the Duke of York, giving a speech at the 1925 closing ceremony of the Empire Exhibition. It is here we first learn of Albert’s stutter. He freezes in front of the microphone and doesn’t utter a sound.
As there is a serious possibility Albert may become King after his father passes (because his older brother is set on marrying a divorced American woman), his wife Elizabeth (Helen Bonham Carter, Fight Club) searches for a speech coach to help Albert. After all of the well qualified speech coaches seem ineffective, Elizabeth finds a less-traditional therapist named Lionel Logue. Lionel (Geoffrey Rush, Pirates of the Caribbean) is a failed actor turned speech therapist from Australia. Together he and Albert work through the problems he has speaking in public. Albert begins to speak in public at small events over the years building up to his coronation in 1936. With World War II just around the corner, the new King George VI brings together his empire and declares war upon Nazism.
Director Tom Hooper does a terrific job of setting the time period. The film is full of historical scenery right for the time. Yet this doesn’t feel like your usual historic drama film. The camera stays very close to Firth for a majority of the film, and most scenes take place inside, mainly within a few buildings. This close up feeling of the camera is replaced every once and a while by a long sweeping corridor or an unusually long room. This creates a space which mirrors Albert’s problem, and the space echoes his stammers.
The King’s Speech is a very well crafted film. It has a brilliant cast including Geoffrey Rush and Helen Bonham Carter who are both magnificent in breathing life into their characters. It also has artistic value in the way the film is crafted. That being said, this is not a film for everyone. It doesn’t have any action scenes, romance scenes or much comedy. This is the simplistic brilliance of it all, it is entertaining, but you must have good patience to watch it all in one sitting. I’m not going to say it is the best film of the year, because quite frankly it isn’t. But it is a pretty damn good movie.