Rush Relieves Royal Repetition
As someone who's not a fan of period dramas and someone who found history a bore during school "The King's Speech" would not be the sort of movie I would seek out unless someone told me to watch it. The thought of watching a movie which combined King George VI's battle with his stuttering whilst recreating the events of the time just didn't float my boat. But "The King's Speech" is in fact a very special and very surprising movie because not only does it recreate the events it makes them interesting and more importantly amusing without ever being comical. It is simply one of the cleverest movies for a few years, not for what it is about but how it is executed from the pacing, the characterization through to the emotional depth it all works.
Having suffered from a stutter for as long as he can remember The Duke of York (Colin Firth - Genova) and future King of England fears any sort of public speaking and with the aid of his wife attempts to find someone who will help him conquer his difficulties. Whilst his methods may seem unorthodox Australian Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) manages to assist The Duke or Bertie has he calls him and over time not only assists in helping him control his stammer but becomes a friend. When Bertie's brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) is forced to abdicate due to his relationship with divorced American Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), Bertie becomes the new King and having to deal with the impending war in Europe, relies on Lionel to help him through the difficult wartime speech he must give.
As already mentioned part of what "The King's Speech" is about is the events surrounding Bertie becoming king following his brother's abdication. Now as a rule this sort of thing would bore the pants off of me but strangely it was fascinating to watch, this may sound obvious but it made history come to life. And as such it not only allowed me to understand what happened but also the ramifications of what happened, of Edward's relationship with Wallis Simpson and the impact it had on Bertie, the emotional strain of becoming King weighing heavy on his already burdened shoulders. It also threw in tit bits of information which unless you were a historian you wouldn't know, such as Miss Simpson's various friendships but it makes what for me has always been boring surprisingly interesting.
But of course the recreation of these historical events is only part of "The King's Speech" as the big part is the friendship which forms between Bertie and unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue. This side of the movie is so well worked that you do feel the warmth that grew between these two men that in his presence Bertie could relax and in a way let out his frustrations whilst also dealing with his speech impediment. And what makes this work is that it is so funny without ever intentionally going for comedy. There is literally one funny scene after another and I don't mean the unconvential therapy, but those small moments such as a snide remark which is slipped in mid conversation. In many ways it's because there is such a stream of laughs which flows through out the movie that it makes it so more heart warming. You sort of imagine that later on in life Bertie and Lionel would meet up for friendly chats and wind each other up.
You have to give director Tom Hooper a whole lot of credit because he has created an exceptionally good movie. The blend of the two storylines the historical with Bertie's battle to beat his stutter interweave beautifully and both are well paced so there are never any dull moments. He also manages to pull of the lightness of the dialogue yet still delivers the emotional storyline, the fear which Bertie faced not only at becoming King but also at having to speak publicly. And he also gets across the relationships, not only the warmth of friendship which forms between Bertie and Lionel but also that of Bertie and his wife Queen Elizabeth as well as his brother and father.
But whilst Tom Hooper deserves the applause and the awards the calibre of the cast also helps things. From the smallest of roles, which in many ways are not small, you have Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill, Anthony Andrews as Stanley Baldwin, Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang all bringing these characters to life and making them so real. Just listening to Spall as Churchill is just wonderful as is watching and listening to Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, a beautiful portrayal of such an iconic royal.
Of course it is two performances which really stand out and both Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue are simply magnificent. I don't know how authentic they are to their real life counter parts but what they do is create two very real characters which draw you into their friendships. It's this, the believable way they grow to like and respect each other which makes "The King's Speech" accessible for those like me who don't really do historical movies.
What this all boils down to is that "The King's Speech" is a seriously impressive movie. Not only does it bring history to life but delivers this wonderful story of the friendship which forms between Bertie and Lionel. It makes this story entertaining and the humour of the friendship really helps to make "The King's Speech" not only amusing but accessible for those who don't do dry dramas.