on December 18, 2010
There always seems to come a time in every British actors career where they must play the role of a historical British monarch. Riding on the success of his career defining performance in "A Single Man" and sampling the glory of Best Actor nominations across the award circuits, Colin Firth comes storming back with another film, determined, this time, to take the all the prizes with him too. But is "The King's Speech" worth its pre-Oscar hype?
Set across the years between the First and Second World War, "The King's Speech" concentrates on the rise of King George VI (Firth) and his personal woes, including his infamous stammer and disdain for public speaking. Obviously being royalty, having an ability to engage the public in moving and inspirational speeches tends to be a necessity of the job. In attempting to overcome this disability, he's entrusted in the care of the eccentric and flamboyant speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Over the course of the film, the two men of distinctly different social classes come to blows but ultimately forge a friendship which will last a lifetime.
Colin Firth's portrayal of George VI (or simply Bertie to his family and friends) was a fascinating insight into the king's troubled personal life. His tragic inability to speak, both in public and to his family, was also tender and, in a way, heart-warmingly humbling.
While Firth will deservedly get the plaudits for his regal starring role, it was Geoffrey Rush's witty, genuine, off-the-wall performance as Logue which personally blew me away, with immense comic timing and inability to be overwhelmed while in the presence of his most prestigious client.
The supporting cast was littered with enough real quality to make any award body take notice, and make most audiences marvel in delight.
The graceful and articulate Helen Bonham Carter gives a honest and loving performance as the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth.
Michael Gambon is sharp and somewhat intimidating as Bertie's father, King George V. Guy Pearce is arrogantly brilliant as Firth's brother and predecessor, King Edward VIII.
While the excellent Timothy Spall shone once again, in his second portrayal as the great Winston Churchill (his first was in October's god awful stop animation, Jackboots on Whitehall). It was also a pleasure to see the classy Jennifer Ehle - who starred opposite Firth in, perhaps, his most famous role as Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - as Lionel's wife.
Hooper should also be credited for making a visually engaging period drama, which never once felt tired or dull on the eyes, as a lot of these quintessentially British affairs can so often become.
The film's themes are also an uplifting and enjoyable treat for all; a story of friendship between essentially a prince and a pauper, a man's journey to overcome his own personal adversaries and become the king he was born to be.
Yes we won't lie, this isn't original by any means: these are classic tried and tested formulas that transcends cinema of the ages - but rarely to this level of detail and panache.
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush's performances make "The King's Speech" an enthralling journey which is heart-warming, humorous and genuinely sincere.
on January 11, 2011
This isn't just another period piece or costume drama. It's a slice of history with a very real problem that many people deal with: stammering or stuttering. In this case, it's King George VI of England. He takes over after his brother abdicates the throne. George's problem is public speaking, and imagine just how hard it would have been for someone who had to make many broadcasts during his reign. He gets help from speech therapist Lionel Logue and from his loving wife as well.
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter are at their best here as the three main characters. The interplay between Firth and Rush is especially moving to watch. The two men end up becoming close friends, not just a king and his subject/therapist.
Excellent and highly recommended.
THE KING'S SPEECH is one of those rare films that rely on the brilliance of the actors to bring a story/screenplay alive. But the success of this extraordinary film does not stop there. This re-telling of history as written by David Seidler and as directed with enormous sensitivity by Tom Hooper, as captured on film by cinematographer Danny Cohen glows as a background for some of the finest acting before the public today.
The film opens in 1925 as King George V (Michael Gambon) is beginning to fail, leaving the heir apparent to the throne at the time of his death to be Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), a man more concerned with love with the twice divorced Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) than he is with the Royal Lineage. Once the now senile George V dies, Edward VIII takes the throne but soon abdicates to marry Wallis. This passes the throne to the tender but severely stammering Prince Albert (Colin Firth), a man terrified of facing his beloved countrymen because of his speech defect - a defect that his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) has encouraged him to correct through a series of speech doctors. Elizabeth hears of Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a poor wannabe actor who gained his knowledge for correcting speech defects teaching returning WW I victims in Australia. Prince Albert (Bertie) and Logue meet and begin therapy by Logue's tough rules before Albert takes the throne. Through a series of rigorous exercises and lessons Logue helps the Prince learn to speak, finally accompanying him to the throne as a speech therapist and giving Bertie (now known as King George VI) the courage and strength to rise to the occasion of leading England through WW II.
Though the above is a brief synopsis of the story, the real message of the film deals with the gradual building of a close friendship between Bertie and Logue - or between royalty and commoner. The manner in which Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush create this memorable relationship represents some of the finest acting in cinema history. The very large cast includes such luminaries as Claire Bloom as Queen Mary, Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Jennifer Ehle as Logue's wife, Timothy Spall in a brilliant turn as Winston Churchill, Anthony Andrews as Stanley Baldwin, and Roger Parrott as Neville Chamberlain. Alexandre Desplat provides the original music allow heavy portions of Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Emperor Concerto (with Steven Osborne as piano soloist). This is a perfect film, well deserving to win the Oscars for every category for which it is nominated. Grady Harp, January 11
Earlier this year when I started hearing raves about "The King's Speech" on the film festival circuit, I knew it was a film for me. I have eagerly awaited its arrival for many months and, as expected, it is a dignified and well scripted effort. Intelligent, adult entertainment of this sort only hits the theaters around awards time and there is no denying that "The King's Speech" is positioning itself perfectly for the year's biggest competition. In an unusual bit of bravado, David Seidler's screenplay is fashioned as a feel good underdog story. Yes, that's right--King George VI is a plucky survivor who must overcome adversity to win the respect of his family and his nation. It's an unusual tactic, really, but I think that's why so many people are responding to "The King's Speech" in a more personal way than past stories of regal history. The film humanizes this world leader in a very identifiable way.
The plotting of "The King's Speech" is pretty straightforward and most people will know the principle story through either history or the film's advertising. Colin Firth plays King George VI who battled with a bad stutter for most of his life. Trying to stay out of the spotlight, Firth has never worried about ascending to the throne as he has an older brother (Guy Pearce) who is in line for that distinction. However, Pearce ends up being more concerned with an inappropriate romance than with ruling a nation. Firth's wife (Helena Bonham Carter), meanwhile, has contracted an unusual speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) that breaks all the rules. Insisting on equality with the future King, Rush and Firth form a tentative friendship. But as Firth takes his place in the monarchy just as World War II is imminent, he must unite the nation with his inaugural radio speech. Guess how it goes?
Obviously, you can't beat the cast of "The King's Speech." Bonham Carter is a delight--both haughty and approachable. Rush is as solid as always and Firth is terrific. Truth be told, I personally would have given Firth last year's Oscar for "A Single Man" and Bonham Carter deserved it for "The Wings of the Dove" many years ago. They will, undoubtedly, both be in the running again this year as will Rush. Despite Rush's classification in the supporting actor category, however, don't be fooled. It is clearly a lead role! Guy Pearce is particularly amusing as an elder brother as he is about seven years younger than Firth. And I like seeing Derek Jacobi as an archbishop (amusing because Jacobi also played a famous historical stammerer in the glorious mini-series "I, Claudius").
All in all, "The King's Speech" is both witty and touching. It's a well made and literate film, one that I admired a lot. It did, however, play out exactly as you might expect with little narrative surprise. But that's a small point that is definitely overshadowed by the many great attributes present in the film. KGHarris, 12/10.
on January 30, 2011
The plot is simple enough. A loving but frustrated wife seeks help from a speech therapist for her husband, whose severe stammer has defied treatment by renowned specialists. The new therapist, who uses unorthodox techniques, manages not quite to turn the man into an orator for the ages, but to make him a comfortable private conversationalist and a credible public speaker.
Of course, the man will become the King of England, and his speeches will encourage and comfort a nation during an all-consuming war that shaped what it was next to become. That, perhaps, is what first packed movie houses for this small little British set piece.
And packed they should have been. This movie is a masterwork. It does take some forgivable dramatic liberties, though. When Lionel Logue first met the Duke of York, he was already more successful than the sets for his office and flat would suggest. And he worked with the Duke for more than a decade before "Bertie" became King George VI and the stakes of the game soared as the King tried to restore dignity to a crown that had been sullied by his brother's pro-Nazi shenanigans and self-indulgent involvement with Wallis Simpson.
No matter. Filmmaking just doesn't get any better. And in this one, it's all about the actors.
Colin Firth is an actor I have always liked but also found a bit disappointing in his choice of roles. He had settled into too comfortable a groove as a pompous twit whose humanity is slowly called forth by surrounding people and circumstances. True, he played some of these roles to near-perfection, such as Mr. Darcy in A&E's stupendous "Pride and Prejudice". But now I realize that God must have been using these roles to prepare Mr. Firth for this role-of-a-lifetime as King George VI. It is truly one of the finest performances I have ever seen an actor deliver on a screen.
Then there is Geoffrey Rush. As Lionel Logue, he strikes a perfect note as the Australian provincial who must force his way into a fortress of British snobbery and regal reserve to deliver his ministrations to a lonely, emotionally-abused man who is being forced onto a stage that terrifies him. Lionel Logue was a humorous, gentle humanitarian who used his fees from the British upper crust to fund his charitable work for the poor. The writers, director, and Rush take the more subtle tack of bringing these traits forward in the charming scenes where Logue stages a bit of theatrical horseplay with his sons and where he and the King press themselves against the wall to hide from a wife (played by the wonderful Jennifer Ehle) who comes home unexpectedly to find the Queen of England sitting at her dining table.
Then there is Helena Bonham-Carter who, as Queen Elizabeth, was spot on in portraying the remarkable woman who combined regality with compassionate earthiness to make her a rallying point for the British during World War II and a veritable cult figure to a later generation, who admired her heart, her humor, and, ultimately, her astonishing longevity.
I could go on, as the entire cast was beyond reproach. But I'll end now by saying just buy this movie. You'll wear it out before you tire of it.
on February 1, 2011
The film "The King's Speech" is wonderfully absorbing, and absolutely deserves all of 12 nominations for the Academy Awards. I went to see it after it has been universally praised as one of the best films from the last year, and I expected it to be good. I just did not expect it to be that good. One would think, why a film about the speech problems of the British prince from 80 years ago, who suddenly becomes the King of England, attracts the viewers, makes them care for the main character, and remains in memory days after it is over? One of the reasons - the starring performance of Colin Firth. This is his personal best performance and the best performance by an actor from the year 2010. It is truly memorable. He was able to show a tormented man who was born close to throne but was not supposed to become a King and emperor due to his status of the second King's son. But he had accepted the King's responsibilities after his father died and his older brother, Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry the woman he loved. Prince Berti, the Duke of York had in him what it takes to be a great ruler but he could not communicate it to the people because he suffered from the terrible case of stutter when he had to give the public speeches. We see Prince "Bertie", later - King George VI, as the man who goes through the wide spectrum of emotions, struggling with all sorts of problems and insecurities. The film is based on the true story of the Duke of York, later King George VI, and his meeting with an unorthodox eccentric speech therapist - failed Australian actor Lionel Logue who may not have had the proper credentials but who knew from the experience and long practice how to find the root of the problem and to help his patients.
The chemistry between Firth and Jeffrey Rush is simply masterful; both actors make their characters and developing of the unlikely friendship between the King and the commoner believable and totally absorbing. By the time, the King George VI has to give the historical speech on the radio declaring the war on the Nazi Germany, we are totally engrossed in the story and feel how crucial it must be that in the days preceding the ordeal for the whole country, people of England would hear the words of confidence and understanding from their King. When Lionel tells the King just before the recording of the nine minutes speech: "Talk to me, tell it to me as your friend", I knew that I was watching the best film of the year. The final scene brought to memory another scene from many years ago, the scene that I consider the top of acting and emotional impact, with Daniel Day Lewis in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot, playing the man who was born with the cerebral palsy and whose body was paralyzed with the exception for his left foot. In the scene that I recall, Day Lewis's character picked up a chalk and started to write a word on the floor. When he finished writing that one word, I knew that I had witnessed not one but three triumphs - the triumph of a human will and spirit, the triumph of the cinema which was able to capture the moment on the film, and the triumph of an actor who did not act but who became the character. It's been many years since I saw My Left Foot and I don't remember experiencing the similar feeling until last Saturday, when I watched a triumphant final to the best film of the year, The King's Speech.
Emotional, funny, old-fashioned in the very good sense of the word, The King's Speech is a success of moviemaking. There are so many great aspects to the film that make it very special among the ten very deserving nominees for Best Picture of the year. They are the subtle directing, heartfelt music score, watercolor delicate cinematography, painstakingly recreated realities of the time when England as well as the whole world was on the brink of the devastating war. What make the film enjoyable for many viewers of the different tastes, ages, and preferences, are the masterful combination of historical realism, emotional drama and the elements of the best English comedy. The scenes of speech sessions between Bertie and Lionel were reminiscent, intentionally or not, to the scenes between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. The King's Speech is also a love story, or rather two love stories, about two princes who both found the loves of their lives. In case of David, the first born and the heir to the throne, he chose to be with the woman he loved even if it cost him the royal crown. Bertie fell in love with the girl who at the time was considered the "commoner" and who had declined his proposal twice being "afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to". Once accepted, she became the loving wife and mother to their two daughters, his loyal friend, confidant, and supporter. Helena Bonham Carter is very convincing as Duchess of York, later Queen consort Elizabeth. In one of her interviews, the actress said that, "...she (Elizabeth) was definitely a tower of strength, and everyone says that Bertie could not have been King without her." I certainly got this feeling from the film.
The King's Speech has become one of my very favorite films from last year. it has everything to be loved and admired by the viewers: its story is compelling, moving with the perfect balance of poignant, uplifting, and humorous; the details of the epoch are recreated lovingly and precisely, but most importantly, it is a wonderfully told story of a human condition, of one man who wanted to overcome the obstacles on the way to accomplish his mission as the ruler able to reach out to the millions of people in the speeches that would make all the difference, and how love and support from his Queen, and the friendship, understanding and willing to listen from a "commoner" helped him to do so.
on January 16, 2011
"The King's Speech" is superior filmmaking and acting with impeccable performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush and with an outstanding contribution by Helena Bonham Carter. This is a deeply moving, deeply involving movie full of historical detail and the famous people of the thirties. I can't think of a recent movie that touched me like this one, and one that so satisfied me. The dramatic conflict between Firth and Rush is brilliantly done.
The man who became George VI (1936-1952) was a stammerer who dreaded becoming the monarch. With the caring tutelage of Lionel Logue (Rush) he is able to control his stuttering for the crucial speech inaugurating Britain's entry into World War II. The strategy of Rush revealed him as a brilliant and imaginative teacher. He was an Australian, a speech therapist, uncertified, but a man had helped many veterans of the Great War in their speech problems.
It is instructive to remember that Carter is playing the queen consort who was the mother of the present Queen of England, Elizabeth II. The Queen Mother (or Queen Mum) died in 2002 at the age of 101.
In the movie the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce) is not depicted favorably, nor was he a figure to admire in real life. He married a twice-divorced American woman with a shady reputation, was pro-Hitler, and was a man who sponged off others in his long useless life after abdicating as King Edward VIII in 1936. He was called David within the family and Albert (later George VI) was called Bertie. In his teaching Rush insisted that Albert allow him to call him Bertie to break the barrier between sovereign and subject and taskmaster and pupil. Bertie's' father, King George V, was a tyrant who had no patience for his stammering son. Logue had to dig into Bertie's's past to find how and why he became a stutterer.
In one crucial scene, the nasty wastrel, David, now king, cruelly apes Bertie's affliction and accuses him of wanting the throne--something that Bertie feared and hoped to avoid. How could his subjects put up with a king who couldn't speak eloquently and fluently?
Bertie and Lionel have epic arguments in the movie. As part of the therapy Lionel gets Bertie angry so he'll yell and not stutter. He also gets him to sing his thoughts. The scene in which Logue tells Bertie to say all the dirty words he knows is a hilarious moment in the film. Logue builds self-awareness and confidence into Bertie, and eventually a deep and lasting friendship develops. The final minutes of the film when the king is giving his radio speech to the nation under the direction of Logue are thrilling and poignant. He becomes his own man and inspires his countrymen in their darkest hour. This film deserves an Oscar.
on February 13, 2011
[This review is for the theatrical release.]
The King's Speech was surprisingly good! I was surprised because usually these historic dramas tend to be dry & boring with only a history aficionado really appreciating the time period shown or the characters being presented, whether in good light or bad.
The film does not concentrate on the whole of history or England's errors and falling into war against Germany and I'm glad it does not. That's been done. It's a story of a reluctant prince and later, a reluctant king who through good luck or bad, and thanks to the support of his sympathetic wife, comes upon an Australian speech therapist.
Except this speech therapist has been trained in the "school of hard knocks" during the First World War. His techniques are unusual and usually very effective. His most effective method is to make friends with his patient. But how do you make friends with a monarch?
If you've any training at all in film technique, you will be amazed at the tension drawn with angles, cuts and positioning. "Bertie" (the prince) is almost always presented in the lower left of the screen and Logue is almost always placed at the right, in an unusual display that draws the eye to a corner of the screen. This is a visual representation of the tension between the two characters which is quite amazing and not a technique you normally see in modern films, as you would in the old Hollywood films. It was refreshing to see.
The subplots are all suppressed in favor of the story between reluctant friends as they struggle to cure the prince of his speech impediment, made more urgent by the fact that the prince's brother is abdicating the throne to marry a woman (quite the scandal at the time) and the prince, now king, needs to be able to speak well as the country falls into war with Germany.
And let's not forget the music! The classic greats of Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms are prominent. Great soundtrack!
The emotions run high at times which I found refreshing. The "R" rating for vulgar language is undeserved and prevents younger teenagers from enjoying this film -- language they hear in the schoolyard all the time!
An unusual presentation of an unusual time in English and Western history. The struggle between friends is reflected in England's struggle against Hitler's march across Europe.
The newsreel of Hitler's speech is unnerving and you can see the man's power. The prince's daughter turns to her father and says "What is he saying, Daddy?" The prince says, "I don't know, but it says it rather well." The king needs to say something just as "well" to rally the country. Can he do it? And with the help of an untrained Australian speech therapist and failed actor? Quite a story!
Cast & Crew:
* Colin Firth - King George VI
* Geoffrey Rush - Lionel Logue
* Helena Bonham Carter - Queen Elizabeth
* Guy Pearce - King Edward VIII
* Timothy Spall - Winston Churchill
* Derek Jacobi - Archbishop Cosmo Lang
* Jennifer Ehle - Myrtle Logue
* Michael Gambon - King George V
* Tom Hooper - Director
* Emile Sherman - Producer
on December 24, 2011
This is about the movie, and is not the movie itself. It is quite disappointing when something is listed as a FREE MOVIE, but instead is only a "clip" about it. It is disappointing that Amazon would do this. It should be clearly listed as a "clip about the movie".
on January 14, 2012
When I saw the run time listed as 5 minutes, I knew that this was not the actual movie, so I began to look all over the description to find where it said that it was a preview and not the movie itself. I was unsuccessful, so as far as I could tell, the run time was the only clue. I too say shame on Amazon.