The King’s Speech: An Inspirational Tale That Barely Stutters

20 12 2010

Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter star in this historical drama about a king and his speech therapist. Here’s the breakdown:

Having struggled with a stutter for most of his life, Albert (Firth), Duke of York, is suddenly forced to confront his fears. After being thrust into the position of king after his elder brother abdicated the throne, Albert, now George VI, faces the growing shadow of war and must address his kingdom. Enter eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Rush). What follows is a story of determination, patience and inspiration.

The Monkey: I was pleasantly surprised to realized I knew practically nothing about the story or the characters onscreen. Stories involving British royalty (and World War II for that matter) are myriad, so right from the start, it was nice to see a movie telling an altogether different story, one in which I went in relatively blind.

Colin Firth played pretty close to type, but his impressive handling of Albert’s stutter made it a wonderfully atypical performance. The stutter could have easily become grating and annoying, yet Firth was able to walk a fine line between believability and caricature.

Helena Bonham Carter was wonderful as publicly demure, yet strong-willed wife, Elizabeth. She was a steady, driving force for Albert, and Carter used her screen time to its fullest, crafting a caring, supportive figure.

Geoffrey Rush was superb as the quixotic and untraditional speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Rush’s use of humor added that perfect ingredient to an already wonderful recipe, taking The King’s Speech from quality historical drama to memorable movie-going experience. Because of his humor-laden performance, Rush’s dramatic and emotional scenes were even more heartfelt and sincere.

Logue’s relationship with Albert formed the crux of the film and Rush and Firth brought this relationship to vivid life onscreen. At times mentor/apprentice, king/subject, friend/friend, these two wonderful actors embodied the many facets of these two remarkable historical figures.

The Weasel: The movie’s greatest strength (aside from its cast) was its wonderful use of humor; however, about halfway through the film, levity was all but forgotten. While the tone of the movie does indeed darken (war looms, etc.), this shouldn’t predicate the cecessation of comedy. In fact, some of the best film moments have been found in the quintessential juxtaposition of drama and comedy. Unfortunately, The King’s Speech abandons any attempt at humor in the final acts, choosing to focus solely on the drama of the story, which, while not bad, offers very little different from films of the same genre.

A wonderful film, equal parts biopic, buddy film, historical drama and British comedy. It doesn’t surprise one bit that The King’s Speech leads this year’s Golden Globe nominations…I’m sure the Academy will follow suite.

4.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Did you enjoy the onscreen chemistry between Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth? Were you familiar with this bit of history? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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