February 4, 2011
‚??Most kings succeed someone who is already dead. My predecessor is still very much alive. It‚??s a bloody mess,‚?Ě says King George VI (Colin Firth). He‚??s speaking to his language coach, Australian commoner Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). ‚??Bertie‚?Ě ‚?? as George is known within his royal family ‚?? has a stammer, an impediment since he was 5. He is a reluctant monarch, succeeding to the throne after his older brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), abdicates to marry, as he famously said, ‚??the woman I love,‚?Ě Wallis Simpson, scandalously divorced, bossy American from Baltimore (Eve Best). Now, in 1939, Britain is on the verge of war with Nazi Germany and the King must speak to the Empire on the radio.Do Logue‚??s unorthodox speech strategies work? Can the King overcome his insecurities and his stammer? Will you applaud this brilliant film? Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush deserve the Oscars for which the Academy has nominated them (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor). Firth‚??s performance is splendid ‚?? nuanced, skillful and affecting. He‚??s the insecure and private middle brother of domineering father, King George V, and distant mother, Queen Mary, both nicely underplayed by Michael Gambon and Claire Bloom. Australian actor Geoffrey Rush expertly plays expansive, out-going and funny Lionel Logue, failed actor who taught himself speech therapy working with shell-shocked World War I veterans. Firth and Rush are a pleasure to watch.Others in the cast include Helena Bonham Carter as loving and loyal Queen Elizabeth (also Academy nominated), Guy Pearce as feckless Edward VIII, Derek Jacobi as fussy Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Timothy Spall as blustering Winston Churchill, Jennifer Ehle as unflappable Laurie Logue, and Anthony Andrews as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. A Who‚??s Who of British/Australian acting aristocracy.‚??The King‚??s Speech‚?Ě is a splendid example of first-class filmmaking. Directed by Tom Hooper, script by David Seidler, it‚??s a great personal story ‚?? entertaining, affective, and evocative of the time (late 1930s) and place (pre-war Depression Britain). Not an epic, its focus is on George and Lionel, unlikely friends at the heart of the film. Their talk is a treat. ‚??My physicians say smoke relaxes the larynx,‚?Ě says George. ‚??They‚??re idiots,‚?Ě says Lionel. ‚??They‚??ve all been knighted,‚?Ě says the King. ‚??Then it‚??s official,‚?Ě Lionel says.R-rated for language (Bertie doesn‚??t stutter when he swears; he uses the F-word 43 times), the film runs 118 minutes. Elegant cinematography by Danny Cohen. Music by Alexandre Desplat, Mozart and Beethoven. Adult fare. It lives up to its hype.Colin Firth is George VI,Splendid in ‚??The King‚??s Speech,‚?ĚSo is co-star Geoffrey Rush,Lionel, the King‚??s teach.