Saturday, 24 November 2012

The King's Speech (2010)

I saw The King's Speech at the cinema for my 22nd birthday and I absolutely loved it. It was a great birthday! I was so happy that it did really well at the BAFTAS and Oscars, and I was even happier when it was announced that the film's director Tom Hooper would be directing the Les Miserables movie musical adaptation! I'll be seeing Les Miserables for my 25th birthday : )

The King's Speech is set during the years from 1925 up until the start of WWII in 1939. It tells the story of Prince Albert ("Bertie"), the Duke of York; the man who would eventually become King George VI and is the father of our current Queen. Bertie has a crippling stammer which seems to stem from problems in his childhood (i.e. a sadistic nanny, an overbearing father, a younger brother who died and an older brother who everyone preferred). Because of his stammer this makes public speaking (or more accurately public reading) a humiliating nightmare for Bertie. He has sought many speech therapists in the past in the hope of a cure but has given up hope. However, at the insistence of his devoted wife, Bertie hires an Australian speech therapist called Lionel Logue; whose methods are unusual and controversial. Bertie and Lionel's relationship goes through many ups and downs over the years, and Bertie becomes increasingly anxious that he may eventually have to become King due to his brother shirking his duties and responsibilities. This pressure intensifies even further when his brother abdicates the throne in order to marry his mistress and Britain declares war on Germany. The nation and the British empire needs a man who can speak for them and their cause; especially since the other side has a very effective public speaker in Adolf Hitler. Bertie doesn't want the throne at all but it's being forced on him and he has to do his duty. The King's Speech is a fascinating and compelling story. It's about an under-appreciated prince, who is an embarrassment to his family, becoming King and the events that lead up to it. But it's also a moving story about a man learning to overcome his fears through the help of a friend. Over the course of the film Bertie and Lionel end up developing a very warm and sincere friendship; with Lionel helping Bertie to deal with his stammer, his low self-esteem and his fears that he'll let his country down.

The King's Speech was a big Box Office hit (which surprised some) and won much critical acclaim. It won four Oscars (for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Leading Actor and Best Original Screenplay) and seven BAFTAS: for Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Music. The film completely deserved all of these awards! Sometimes films get hyped up as something special and turn out to be not so great *cough Black Swan cough * The King's Speech isn't one of those films and it has so much going for it. The whole film is beautifully lit and shot and it has amazing cinematography. According to Wikipedia, the cinematographer Danny Cohen is also doing the cinematography for Les Mis. Yay!

Colin Firth as Bertie
Another major factor that makes The King's Speech so great is its acting. It has a superb cast of actors who are all brilliant in their roles. I'll start with Colin Firth since he's the leading actor in the film. Colin Firth got his big break when he played Mr Darcy in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice back in 1995. He gave a great performance in that but it seems that for the next 10 years or so afterwards he pretty much coasted along on his sexy Mr Darcy image (i.e. the Bridget Jones films) and didn't really take on roles that challenged him as an actor. But that's changed in recent years and he gives a brilliant performance in this film. He shows vulnerability, anger, embarrassment, desperation, courage, strength, dignity... he completely deserved his Oscar and BAFTA wins! His stammer is completely believable too and you can really sympathise with Bertie's character, even when he snaps at Logue.

The supporting cast is outstanding too. Helena Bonham Carter gives a wonderful performance as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. She's lovely as Bertie's witty, devoted and caring but also steely-willed and strong wife. I loved her in this film. She gives the best performance I've yet seen from her and I really wanted her to win an Oscar for it. She's a great actress and it's a shame that she's mostly famous for playing psychos and loonys these days (i.e. Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films, The Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd). Geoffrey Rush was... OK I know I've moaned about how much I didn't like his Javert in the 1998 Les Miserables film but he really is a great actor and he's brilliant in this film as Lionel Logue. He has great comic timing and is one of, no, he's the funniest character in the film. Yet at the same time he shows the character's common sense, his supportive side and his sensitivity. He has great chemistry with Firth too (as does Helena Bonham Carter). I was torn between wanting Geoffrey Rush or Christian Bale to win the Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars that year. Now for the rest of the cast. Guy Pearce is excellent as the arrogant, brattish but ultimately weak Edward VIII. Michael Gambon has a small role as George V and is great. You get the sense that the character is an overbearing father and a bit of a bully but you still feel sorry for him when he's ill and dying. Ooh, fans of the BBC's Pride and Prejudice should definitely see The King's Speech because not only is Darcy in it, Elizabeth Bennett is in it too! Jennifer Ehle has a role in this film as Lionel's wife Myrtle. She pulls off a great Australian accent and even has a brief, heart-warming scene with Colin Firth's Bertie. We also get David Bamber in this film. He played the pompous Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice and in this he plays a.... pompous theatre director. Other famous names in this film include Derek Jacobi (as the Archbishop of Canterbury), Timothy Spall (as Winston Churchill) and Anthony Andrews (as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin). We even get to see Ramona Marquez making her big-screen film debut as Princess Margaret. She plays Karen in the BBC's Outnumbered. I really liked the child actors who played Lionel and Myrtle's children as well.

Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue

Guy Pearce as Edward VIII

Michael Gambon as George V

Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle

Ramona Marquez as Princess Margaret

I also have to mention that the music in this film is excellent: both the original music by Alexandre Desplat and the pieces of classical music that we hear (from the composers Mozart and Beethoven). The script is brilliant too and is full of drama and witty humour. I was really surprised at just how funny a lot of this film was when I first saw it. The King's Speech is a beautiful, emotional film that's full of heart and is highly uplifting. It has my seal of approval : )

Rating: 5/5

No comments: