Thursday, March 17, 2011

Movie Review - King's Speech

The period drama The Kings Speech is set in the years 1925 to 1939. It chronicles how Albert, the Duke of York, or famously known as Bertie found himself crowned the King of England after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII to marry an American divorcee. The plot of the story revolves around the King’s inability to speak public because he stammered and how he overcame it with the help of a speech therapist Lionel Legue.

It is a superbly crafted movie with excellent acting by Colin Firth as the King and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist. The chemistry between Firth as the stiff leader of the country and Rush as the plainspoken commoner and their friendship is what makes this whole movie more than a watchable one.

Firth who is the favorite for this year’s Best Actor Oscar was also nominated in the same category last year for A Single Man. His portrayal of Bertie is tremendously moving in his frustration, humiliation and fury, choking on his words then gasping for air like a man who is drowning. Rush on the other hand, is his comic foil. His character Logue insists on calling everyone by the first name which drives Bertie mad. He has His Highness sing “Swanee River”, roll on the floor of his apartment and scream profanities as part of the treatment.

The movie is directed by Tom Hopper, who is no stranger to period dramas having directed the TV miniseries John Adams and Elizabeth I. His movie shows much sympathy for the monarch even though he jibes at the monarchy. His experience dealing with period drama adds a different element to the movie. He notes in particular the arrival of mass media and its impact on public personalities well before Princess Diana democratized princess into pop icon. In one scene, he shows His Highness watching Hitler on television rousing the crowd in Nuremberg with his oratory fire. The significance of the scene is reflected in the last part of the movie when Bertie himself would rally his own people by delivering a crucial and inspirational live radio broadcast from Buckingham Palace, declaring war against Germany.

The other cast members in the movie includes Helena Bonham Carter as the King’s wife Elizabeth and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. However, this movie is all about the performances of Firth and Rush who manages to turn a slow meandering plot into a watchable movie worthy of its Best Picture nomination.

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