EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|KING'S SPEECH, THE (director: Tom Hooper; screenwriter: David Seidler; cinematographer: Danny Cohen; editor: Tariq Anwar; music: Alexandre Desplat; cast: Colin Firth (King George VI), Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue), Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth), Guy Pearce (King Edward VIII), Jennifer Ehle (Myrtle Logue), Eve Best (Wallis Simpson), Freya Wilson (Princess Elizabeth), Ramona Marquez (Princess Margaret), Claire Bloom (Queen Mary), Derek Jacobi (Archbishop Cosmo Lang), Michael Gambon (King George V), Timothy Spall (Winston Churchill), Anthony Andrews (Stanley Baldwin); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Iain Canning/Emile Sherman/Gareth Unwin; Weinstein Company; 2010-UK/USA)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Smartly written by veteran screenwriter David Seidler, conventionally but ably directed by Tom Hooper ("Red Dust"/"The Damned United") and brilliantly acted by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It makes for a smart historical pic, one that's amiable, comically wry, informative and wonderful as a period drama that's polished in its details. It tells the story of the prideful, self-effacing, moody, arrogant, repressed and buttoned-down Duke of York (Colin Firth), who suffers from an inhibiting speech impediment since the age of 4 that makes his royal duties a nightmare. The Duke is solicitously supported by his loyal wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and is treated secretly by a transplanted Australian failed Shakespearean actor, speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who doesn't have the proper credentials but has the experience to give hope that his unique treatment will work. The two testy characters go through an insufferable relationship, the gist of the film, until the Duke becomes King George VI and they overcome their class differences and personality quirks to have their friendship prosper for the rest of their lives.
It opens in Britain in 1925.
Prince Albert, the Duke, the second
son of King George V (Michael Gambon), is a nervous wreck as he makes a
public address in a football stadium at the British Empire Exhibition using the new medium of radio. The Duke's
feeling great humiliation because of his stuttering and thinks he's
disappointing the public, who expect more from a member of the royal
family. His wife feels his pain growing after a few failed attempts to
alleviate the problem, as administered by highly recommended
professionals. So Elizabeth gets hubby to try the unorthodox Logue to
be his speech therapist, who initially gets under the officious Duke's
skin by getting personal with him, even daring to call him "Bertie,"
and also going Freudian on him. Over the years, the men bicker on the
treatment and have periods where they separate. But upon the death of
the Duke's imperious father King
George V (Michael Gambon) in 1936 and the abdication of the throne
by the eldest son King Edward
VIII (Guy Pearce) to marry the twice-divorced, unlikable to
the royals, American commoner Wallis
Simpson (Eve Best), the Duke becomes king. The pic leaves
off in 1939, as the insecure King
George VI must deliver his first war address to the public and rally
them against the threat of the speechifying Hitler.
It's the prickly relationship
between the plucky king and the maverick speech therapist that gives the
film its credibility, as something authentic and worthwhile knowing
about. When it goes outside this relationship and offers overwrought
melodramatic conventional historical moments and overwhelms us with
swelling Rocky like background rah-rah music, it seems to be defeating
its purpose of keeping things real. This is an actor's picture and they
do their part to make this an enjoyable quality Oscar type of adult pic
by bringing their great thespian skills to the starchy biopic. It's at
its best when the characters are engaged in the therapy sessions, as it
daringly leaves them in uncomfortable situations that forces them to
act intimate and profane with each other despite the protocol required
for the royals to keep a proper distance from their commoner subjects.
REVIEWED ON 1/18/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ