Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company
It’s hard to believe that The King’s Speech, a film about King George VI—father of the current Queen Elizabeth of England—and the overcoming of his stutter during the declaration of war to Nazi Germany, is as funny, as invigorating, and as heartfelt as it is.
The film centers on the royally isolating world of King George VI (Colin Firth), who, with the help of his supportive and refreshingly honest wife (a wonderful Helena Bonham Carter), finds a speech therapist to alleviate his speech impediment when he has not yet been crowned King. When the speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), comes into the picture, everything brightens, and the film shifts its focus toward the contradiction between Lionel’s modest and relaxed lifestyle and “Bertie’s” royally proper world.
Visually, the film’s uniform, prim, and upright feel alters within Lionel’s multicolored, mismatched, vibrant workroom; as Bertie spends more and more time with Lionel there in his room, the film visually transforms, just as Bertie does as he conquers his impediment.
Some of the most sharply entertaining and delightfully witty moments in the film occur toward the middle when Lionel first begins to gain Bertie’s trust. Bertie’s reserved manner and exploding temper clash but eventually adjust as a result of Lionel’s silly, easy-going, and endearingly optimistic attitude. Lionel treats each speech lesson as if it were a therapy session, asking Bertie about his childhood, about his relationship with his father and his brother, and how his stutter started He concurrently does strange but humorous things in the process (which are very often laugh-out-loud funny), like having King George yell out a string of swear words, among other amusing exercises. Though arguably of opposite character and status, the two become friends, and the development of this friendship is lovely to witness onscreen, Firth and Rush seize and wholly embody every aspect of the ingenious characters given to them.
It’s no surprise that The King’s Speech was nominated for fourteen BAFTAs, winning seven, and seven Golden Globes, in which Colin Firth won for Best Actor. Additionally, the film is leading the pack with twelve Academy Award nominations, of which it will most certainly win at least several. The King’s Speech, a seemingly small, low-budget film, is a simple, smart, humorous and emotional account of the succession of King George VI to the throne and his attempts to rectify his speech impediment. It is a film that is additionally visually stunning and surprisingly gratifying, shedding a new light on the life of the royal family and exhibiting strong performances that make the film one of the best of the year.
The King’s Speech is playing at Cinemapolis until Friday, February 25.