The King's Speech (2010)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


The King's Speech (2010) Poster

The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

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  • Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech (2010)
  • Colin Firth in The King's Speech (2010)
  • Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech (2010)
  • Colin Firth in The King's Speech (2010)
  • Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech (2010)
  • Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech (2010)

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17 December 2010 | jdesando
A Royal Treat
You heard it from me: Not even James Franco with his boffo performance in 127 Hours can beat Colin Firth for the Oscar in King's Speech, a docudrama about the Duke of York (Firth) becoming King George VI while overcoming a crushing stutter. Not only does the actor get pitch perfect the stutter, but he also invests a kindness, courage, and vulnerability in the character that work in harmony to create an unforgettable George in an exquisite period peace.

Not to forget how generously Geoffrey Rush underplays Lionel, the speech therapist who is instrumental in making the king a speaker and a friend. That low-key acting allows Firth the room to expand his king's personality without interference from an Oscar-winning co-star. This is history as I like to learn it—honest and engaging with palaces and minor characters well-appointed and underplayed themselves as part of a mosaic of challenges facing a handicapped king and a nation on the brink of WWII. The pace is close to languid, better to allow us to settle in for the painful transformation of a man unused to public speaking but used to family mocking his disability.

George's bravery is the film's heartbeat, not flamboyant courage, mind you, but rather the kind that wakes us up to the character as complex and lovable. But valor is not his exclusively, Guy Pearce's Edward, who abdicates for his love, Wallace Simpson, can be seen as a courageous man giving up a crown for love or a fool falling for a twice-divorced socialite.

Such an ambivalence is fitting for a film that gently introduces you to a period in British history when alliances are not clear and allegiances dangerous. One thing is patently clear, however—this is going to be on most critics' best film of the year list with a sure Oscar winner for its star. If Firth missed the brass ring last year in A Single Man, he'll grab it this year in King's Speech.

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