The story of a man who was seen as unfit to be king, dragged down by a recurring stammer and his struggles to master this defect and prove himself worth as his royal destiny is suddenly thrust upon him by the famous abdication of his brother. George VI is seen first at a public gathering, desperately trying to deliver his speech but falling victim to his speech impediment. Subtly played, the audience sympathetic but bored with his inability, this scene deftly sets up the film which despite its pace always holds the interest.
The King’s Speech is a wonderful period piece set in a decade with which we are still familiar as it is preserved on film and in sound. Colin Firth shot to fame in costume dramas though usually playing fictional characters and it’s great to see that he rises to the challenge of portraying a real life figure from within living memory. He wisely doesn’t go for a straight impersonation but captures the essence of George VI giving us some very moving moments as well as a great deal of laughter. A very well judged piece of acting and one that is sure to earn him an Oscar.
The supporting actors are equally impressive, each perfectly cast with Geoffrey Rush showing great generosity and skill in his portrayal of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist drafted to help the soon to be king. He gives Firth plenty of room to act in their scenes together, never allowing his own performance to dominate. Helena Bohnam Carter is of course, as wonderful as you would expect her to be in the role of the young consort that every Briton knew later as “The Queen Mother”
It’s a wonderfully funny and warm human drama, a story of one man facing his demon and emerging triumphant and an intimate portrayal of the private lives of one of the world’s most famous families as the spectre of war draws inexorably closer. Plaudits must go to writer David Seidler and particularly to director Tom Hooper who interprets the script with sensitivity. The cinematography though beautiful in itself is always complementary and never threatens to overwhelm the drama with visuals. It’s rare for a film to receive such overwhelmingly positive reviews but in they case of this movie they are all well deserved, every aspect of the production is polished and perfect. It’s sure to sweep the Oscars this year so make a point of relishing it now!