Thursday, December 2, 2010

Movie with Abe: The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper
Released November 26, 2010

One of this year’s top Oscar contenders is the story of a monarch whose times and circumstances presented considerable challenges to being and becoming the regal figure he needed to be. It’s a story more modern than most of its kind (like “The Duchess” or “Elizabeth”) and less modern than few (“The Queen”), and in many ways, it’s a completely different film from those well-received entries. It features a nationally-known person struggling with isolation and the inability to be understood by anyone, all the while carrying a massive burden on his shoulders as his country heads to war and he must head to the radio to let his voice be heard by his entire empire.

“The King’s Speech” is a film that allows its characters to introduce themselves, and they respond commendably to the task. The most vibrant and present personality is that of Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, the eccentric and excitable speech therapist hired by the Duke of York’s wife to coach her husband in the art of speaking without a stammer. Rush frequently launches towards the camera (and other characters) in jubilant expression of his professional tactics, and he’s easily the film’s most endearing personage. Helena Bonham Carter establishes the Duke’s wife Elizabeth as a strong and independently capable woman with a great wit and a clear grasp of how others perceive her. And Colin Firth, as the titular hero, speaks rarely and smiles even less, and it’s a fiercely committed performance that feels lived in and authentic.

With its actors performing to their utmost abilities and instilling their characters with emotion and individuality, there isn’t much left that the film has to do to frame its story. After a pensive start that features extensive elaboration of the Duke’s struggles and Logue’s efforts to teach him how to overcome his stutter, the film, like its title character, becomes a grander, more sweeping presentation that does justice to the majesty of its hero and the impact of his situation and the training he received from Logue on the rest of the British empire. By its end, “The King’s Speech” is a stirring and inspiring tale with plenty of entertainment and humor along the way, and some fine performances to guide it along. A melancholy score aids the Duke’s transformation from nervous stutterer to unlikely bastion of hope for his nation at a time when they needed him most in this capable period film.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an insightful review. I saw the movie last week based on your recommendation.