28 December 2010

Behr Movie: The King's Speech

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm quite the anglophile. When I first heard about The King's Speech I was excited, especially since it stars the incomparable Colin Firth who is - imho - long overdue for international recognition. That means he deserves an Oscar. His portrayal in last year's A Single Man was nothing short of brilliant. But I digress. Yesterday afternoon I saw The King's Speech, which incidentally has been nominated for seven Golden Globes.

Quick Plot Outline: George V (Michael Gambon) is ruling but asks his second son, the Duke of York (Firth), to make a speech. Albert (or "Bertie") stutters terribly and makes a laughing stock of embarrassment of himself because of it. To help her husband for future speaking engagements, the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) employs Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to help the Duke overcome his stutter. In the meantime, the King is becoming weak and the heir apparent, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) is dating a divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), who he wants to marry but can't if he is to be king. George V dies, Edward abdicates, Bertie becomes King, and Parliament declares war on Germany. Bertie - now George VI re-enlists Logue who eventually helps him with his first war time speech.

The film is rated R for language; evidently the Duke of York does not stutter when he swears! The language isn't directed at anyone, isn't gratuitous, and is definitely one of the humorous highlights. In fact, the movie is full of bits of humor although it does hit a serious note or two towards the end.

All of the performances were wonderful. I especially enjoyed Gambon as George V and Claire Bloom as Queen Mary. Firth was wonderful, and Rush is as always the consummate actor. The big surprise was Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth. She returned to her Howard's End days in this performance. She was quite proper and spot on as the (future) Queen Mum. And a word about Eve Best: the only think lacking in her portrayal as Wallis Simpson was the mole. She was scarily spot on!

The movie is just shy of two hours but it doesn't feel overly long. Everything about the film - the acting, the costuming, the set design - is pitch perfect. I highly recommend The King's Speech for anyone who has an interest in British period pieces. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a full 5. I'm no expert but I saw no flaws or drawbacks. Definitely the movie I'll be rooting for at Oscar time.



Cubby said...

I'm glad you liked it and wrote about it. I'm looking forward to seeing this film, probably on Jan. 8.

Wonder Man said...

My partner loved it

Nik_TheGreek said...

I want to go and watch it when I go back to London after the end of my holidays. I'm glad you liked it.