Recently I watched the award winning, much loved, critic’s favourite The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter. It is always something I consider in watching these highly favoured films, are they worth the hype?
The film tells the story of King George VI (Firth), father of the current monarch of the United Kingdom, before his ascension. As your history would inform you he only became King because his older brother abdicated out of his love for a divorcee. The story centres around George’s serious stammer that made him unable to make public speeches. His wife (Bonham-Carter) has sought to get the best help to cure him of the stammer and nothing has worked. She comes across the unorthodox methods of Lionel Logue (Rush) and after much persuasion manages to get her husband to try him. The therapy goes beyond mere voice coaching and explores the key relationships in George’s life – with his father, and his brother – and the inherent inferiority complex underpinning the stutter. Can Logue’s techniques work in time for George to accept his role as King and speak for his country as they head into the early stages of World War 2?
I watched the film with my wife, and she is always a good barometer for me as to whether or not a film is worth persisting. At first she found the film boring, but as a measure of its quality, she ended up being full enraptured with the story of the movie and even shedding a tear or two at its end. I didn’t think it was a slow start to the film at all, and the pace of the movie was consistent throughout. There were enough twists and turns in the tale to keep me thoroughly interested throughout.
This is marked by good character development in the main characters. Firth and Rush were definitely deserving of the plaudits as they played against each other very well. Rush as the outsider whose methods court controversy in the staid and stiff routines of the status quo works within the reality of his role. He evokes emotional responses without being outlandish and the story of his character finding his form in helping our someone even if he was a failed actor is a great tale of someone achieving against all the odds.
The centre of the piece though is about George and Firth really puts in a masterful performance conveying that British stiff-upper-lip mentality yet acknowledging its limits to overcome his own and succeed. He doesn’t hog the screen, but he commands the attention that the central character must in a film of this nature. He does regal and majestic well, but in a way that helps this viewer relate with him, almost as though he’s a regular human being.
Indeed the performances by the cast as a whole are wonderful, with the slight exception of Guy Pearce as George’s brother Edward. It was a brave piece of casting and Pearce is a quality actor, yet it felt a little bit off. That does not detract from the film significantly and the whole works strongly for the way each takes his or her role and performs admirably.
This is a story that merits the awards it has received, which is not always the case. If you want a drama that can stimulate thought about the way society works and tug at the heart strings looking to see if adversity can be overcome, this is a good film to turn consider.