Director: Tom Hooper
With strong showings in just about every award ceremony going, “The King’s Speech” is currently riding high in the 2011 Oscar Nominations. In some ways this would seem a bit of a surprise – after all, the story of a member of royalty struggling with a speech impediment would seem more suited for a bad TV movie on a minor cable channel than one of the year’s major feature films. But the praise that has been heaped on the film is deserved thanks to an engrossing story and some superb performances.
The Duke of York (Colin Firth) – or ‘Bertie’ as he is known to his (very few) friends – has the usual life of a member of the British Royal Family: one of attending functions and events whilst greeting innumerate people. But a life in the public eye is something that Bertie would rather avoid as a severe stammer makes it difficult for him to communicate to the masses. But history has a tendency of overtaking the needs of the individual and soon Bertie finds himself in the middle of dealing with the death of his father King George V, the reluctance of his brother to ascend to the throne and the ever growing threat of war. Enter Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) whose unconventional teaching methods may be the only thing to help Bertie overcome his impediment and rally the nation over the ever present Nazi threat.
Firth is superb in the lead role offering a perfectly observed blend of vulnerability and frustration alongside hints of arrogance. He’s ably supported by Rush whose general insouciance provides a perfect counterpoint to Bertie’s more staid personality and the pair have a wonderful chemistry. The story is consistently fascinating (though it certainly plays rather fast and loose with historical facts) whilst Hooper manages to wring dramatic tension out of some of the most seemingly mundane incidents whilst throwing in some moments of humor that balance everything wonderfully.
For once the hype is deserved as “The King’s Speech” is an elegantly crafted piece of work.
Now showing in all three countries.