The King’s Speech tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George (‘Bertie’) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stutter and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country into war.
I could write for hours about this film. I only just heard about it last night at a New Year’s Eve party. Saw it today. To use the vernacular, OMG. Director Tom Hooper has a masterpiece on his hands. Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill, all turn in excellent performances. Not to forget Guy Pearce as King Edward who abdicated his throne for an American divorcée. David Seidler’s script is brilliant. The story is laid out cleverly. The pace and rhythm are PERFECT.
I think this is one of the best films ever made. It will tear at your guts. And that is where Collin Firth comes in. Mr. Firth gives one of the most poignant and affective performances ever by a male movie star. Where, inside himself, an actor goes for a performance like this, is beyond my comprehension.
In the movie, “A Single Man”, Colin Firth served notice that he was an actor of depth and subtlety, the surface of which he had only just begun to scratch. Now, he’s more than scratched that surface. He’s gouged a chasm through it. He plays the tormented, soon to be King of England, George VI, and does so in a way that very early in the movie buries his hooks in you and doesn’t let go. I can not ever recall, while watching a film, having to choke back tears for over an hour and a half. The suffering portrayed by Firth as George VI is subtle at times. In your face at others. But painfully present always. When Firth bellows, “I am a King” I nearly lost it in a very quiet, and stunned, theater. If you’ve already seen this film you know what this refers to.
As an American I find the concept of a monarchy bewildering. Why is one person more privileged than another just because of the womb he or she sprang from? That being said, I do find the stories of those trapped in this anachronistic time warp fascinating at times. This would be one of those times. This film is the intersection of great personal pain, international upheaval, and a family that is ceremoniously dysfunctional to it’s core.
Above this chaos, confusion, and unrest, rises a weak shell of a man to greatness. Colin Firth is the vessel for that transformation and if he doesn’t win an Oscar for this performance it will tarnish the Academy forever in my humble opinion. This is the kind of performance, and film overall, that you leave thinking to yourself that you’ve just seen the greatest movie ever. Maybe later you’ll see another brilliant film and think that “this one” is the best ever, but for now “The King’s Speech” has no equal.