Saturday, 22 January 2011

Film Review: THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)

Director: Tom Hooper
Running time: 118 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK Release date: 7th January 2011

Watched at the cinema Saturday 22nd November 2010.


I always like a film based on true events, it seems that real life has just as many amazing stories as pure fiction. This is a case in point. A man who stammers has to rise above his affliction, with the help and support of those around him, to speak for a nation. It’s quite a remarkable film. Here’s a short summary first before I give you my thoughts (summary haters please wait outside while I get through the next speech… sorry, paragraph).

King George VI, known as Bertie to his friends and family, was not born to be king. That honour went to his older brother David, or King Edward VIII, after their father George V passed away. Unfortunately, David finds he cannot carry out his duties due to events in his private life (quite a scandal actually) and so Bertie has to step in. A long time before this he had started seeing an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. He had always stammered and found it particularly hard to speak in public. With the help and support of Logue, his wife, Elizabeth and his daughters another Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret; this film depicts how he overcame his problems to give a very important speech live on the radio to the entire British Empire (as it was then) just after the outbreak of World War II. It also gives an insight into the reasons for Edward’s abdication and the effect it has on the nation. But I think that’s enough summary for now.

I found this a totally engaging film from start to finish. As a Brit, I was taught about the abdication of Edward VII in school, but I never knew about George VI’s stammer or the work of Lionel Logue. Of course, the film is most noted for the performance of Colin Firth as King George VI (Bertie to his friends), which is totally justified, he is outstanding! Also worthy of note are both Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth. Honourable mentions go to Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Michael Gambon as King George V, Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII, Claire Bloom as Queen Mary and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill.

Apart from the performances, I thought it was an excellent screenplay by David Seidler. Nicely directed by Tom Hooper, it depicts the period perfectly. This is a film with many laughs, more than a lot of modern ‘comedies’, IMO, which serve to lift the mood of what is, after all, rather serious events in world history. Over all, brilliant performances, a great story and a few laughs along the way… who could ask for more? Very highly recommended.

My score: 9.3/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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