There are times when it’s not unfair to accuse actors of coasting along in a role. Playing the same characters with each movie, such performers tend to stick to their thespian comfort zones with agonizing stubbornness. Then there’s Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush – two actors always daring to be different. They certainly are with The King’s Speech working very well due to their intuitive and lively renditions of men bought together in unlikely circumstances.
When King George V (Michael Gambon) passes away and his brother King Edward (Guy Pearce) suddenly abdicates the throne, Bertie (Colin Firth) is unexpectedly made the United Kingdom’s new King. Unfortunately he has a speech impediment – an affliction not inspiring confidence in a public about to go to war. Sensing he needs help, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the services of eccentric Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Forming a close alliance, the two very different gentlemen would help galvanise a nation towards the dark days ahead.
Sublimely directed by Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech easily fits the ‘uplifting film’ label. That isn’t to say it is saccharine sweet – it is an affirming tale in gaining self-confidence. Burdened not only with various family dramas but also with an emotionally debilitating disability, Bertie’s anguish is often painful to view. With Lionel’s help, these shackles of nerves would mostly be undone and give him the strength needed to become the King both know he can be. Their ability to confide in each other also enables him to deal with the looming threat of war.
It’s simple pin-pointing why The King’s Speech works so well as the performances are first class. Everyone brings genuine dignity to their roles and of the situation doing justice to their real-life counterparts. Firth especially makes Bertie a very sympathetic character facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Whilst the script over-does the expected emotional jabs a little, its story enables one to be swept away as it astutely presents the Royals as suffering from the same foibles as their subjects.
Already a hit with critics, the Oscar whispers surrounding it aren’t for nothing. The King’s Speech is an insightful study in the power of believing in oneself and further aids the motif that true-life stories are always the most fascinating.
Movie Review Rating 9 / 10
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
The King’s Speech released in Australia on Thursday 26 December 2010.
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.