The King’s Speech (Film Review)
4 out of 4 stars
In a year dominated by violent thrillers and moody dramas, ‘The King’s Speech’ is simply two hours of pure joy for viewers. Boasting an uplifting feel-good vibe from start to finish, the film’s strengths include outstanding acting, an inspiring story, superb production values, and a moving message of self-empowerment and acceptance. Even if it doesn’t push cinematic boundaries, ‘The King’s Speech’ easily ranks as one of the most enjoyable films of the year.
‘The King’s Speech’ tells the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth), the WWII era English king who battled a crippling stammer through his reign. When the film opens in 1937, George, who is still a Duke, can barely speak a single sentence coherently and finds public speeches almost impossible. Mocked by his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and his fellow royals, George lives his life as a lonely recluse, with his only friend being his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter).
Fortunately, George’s life takes a turn for the better once he meets Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a charismatic and dedicated speech therapist. An Australian immigrant, Logue’s methods initially seem unorthodox, with Elizabeth recommending him as a last resort after the failure of every other doctor in London. Despite this, George quickly makes genuine progress with his stammer for the first time under his guidance, and strikes a close friendship with the doctor that will ultimately change his life forever.
However, Bertie’s courage will be put to the test when the sudden abdication of his brother Richard (Guy Pearce) results in him taking command of the throne, making him the youngest king in British history. With these events coinciding with the start of WWII, Bertie must rally his people through his first broadcast radio message, known as the king’s speech. Still struggling to fully overcome his stammer, George must use all his courage to provide hope to his people and overcome his personal demons for good.
Without a doubt, ‘The King’s Speech’ features the best cast of any film in 2010. As King George VI, Colin Firth has never been more human, providing a performance that is quietly restrained yet intensely at the same time. This can be seen in numerous scenes throughout the film, from the film’s opening speech where George visibly chokes on his tears to the humorous and touching scene where he bravely reads a nursery rhyme to his two children in his.
Similarly, Geoffrey Rush turns in one of his career’s best roles as Lionel Logue. Witty and outgoing, Rush’s character is almost the polar opposite of Firth, and provides the movie with much of its warmth and humour. Some of the quirky exercises that Logue puts his patient through include swearing at the top of his lungs at every pause in his speech, singing his everyday conversations to his wife and child, and having his wife sit on his chest as he practices speaking. However, Logue is not perfect either: he too is discriminated against by London’s elite due to his Australian background, becoming a doctor only as a result of his failure to break into the city’s competitive theatre industry. In fact, Logue probably gains as much wisdom and self-knowledge from George as the king does from him by the film’s end. Like ‘The Social Network’ and ‘The Fighter’, ‘The King’s Speech’ is definitely one of the most complex and realistic character studies in recent memory.
Additionally, ‘The King’s Speech’ also has a universally inspiring storyline which should resonate with audiences of many groups and ages. Rather than losing itself in the details and politics of the royal family, the film wisely focuses on the friendship between George and Logue, instantly giving the film wider appeal outside of its period drama niche. In fact, any viewers who have ever suffered from feelings of self-doubt, no matter how small or fleeting, should leave the cinema with their spirits lifted by George’s journey of discovery.
Finally, ‘The King’s Speech’ is also a technical triumph with its superb cinematography and lush score by Alexandre Dusplat. Every city street in London is beautifully captured and subtly redecorated in a 1930’s fashion, with bystanders dressed in top hats and canes and vintage street signs and Model T cars lining the roads. Colour also plays an important role, with the streets of London shown in a dark and depressing monochrome, showing the repressive nature of English society, while the interiors of Logue’s study are vibrantly decorated in green and yellow hues, symbolizing the bond of friendship between the two men and the importance of individuality which the two discover. When coupled with the vibrant, playful piano-driven score, ‘The King’s Speech’ easily creates a cinematic world that is just as immersive as those found in any big-budget sci-fi epic.
After watching ‘The King’s Speech’, it’s easy to see why the picture won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. It may not be as challenging or well-made as Oscar rivals like ‘The Social Network’ or ‘Inception’, but that’s precisely the point: it’s a simple, enjoyable character drama of courage in the face adversity that should appeal both to seasoned movie fans and casual viewers looking for a fun way to pass two hours. Undoubtedly, ‘The King’s Speech’ is one of the most pleasantly memorable films of its kind.
‘The King’s Speech’ is currently showing in Hong Kong cinemas and is available on DVD in Shenzhen.
Did you like The King's Speech?
- 4 out of 4 stars (47%, 43 Votes)
- 3 out of 4 stars (20%, 18 Votes)
- Not planning to see it! (14%, 13 Votes)
- 1 out of 4 stars (11%, 10 Votes)
- 2 out of 4 stars (8%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 91