The Kings Speech
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffry Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Eve Best & Ramona Marquez
By Alex Towers
The Kings Speech is a thoroughly excellent film. Tom Hooper (The Damned United) directs a perfect (not flawless, not near perfect, just perfect) cast in telling the story of the abdication crisis of 1936 and its effect on Prince Albert, Duke of York, who would become King George VI as a result.
Colin Firth is outstanding in the central role of Prince Albert (known as “Bertie” to his friends). Crippled with a debilitating speech impediment that severely curtails his public engagements as a royal, he dejectedly seeks the help of yet another speech therapist, the unorthodox Australian Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
However as Bertie struggles to string a sentence together, his cocky older brother Edward (a smarmy Guy Pearce) begins a scandalous affair with American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) despite the likelihood he will become King following the death of his ailing father King George V (Michael Gambon).
The Kings Speech is one of those rare films that despite appearing at the outset to be a dry historical run-through actually emerges as a gripping, touching and often very funny film buoyed by sterling performances. Colin Firth impressed everyone last year with the lead role on Tom Ford A Single Man but here he demonstrates that the ability he showed then was no fluke. Too often regulated to rom-com fluff, it appears Firth is finally getting the roles he deserves. Anyone in any doubt need only watch the scene in which he stammers and splutters while recalling his grueling childhood, always on the verge of tears. But that’s not to say the film is full of misery and despair- most of it involves Bertie sparring with his indomitable speech therapist, both spitting asides and one liners at each other. Therefore Geoffrey Rush also deserves just as much praise, bringing the laughs as part of the unlikely double act but never letting the role become just comic relief.
Elsewhere Helena Bonhan-Carter reminds us all what an outstanding actress she can be when not cackling in one of her husband’s half-cooked remakes. Her turn as Bertie’s beloved wife, both unflappable and competent is very impressive. And the supporting cast, including a spot-on Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and Outnumbered’s Ramona Marquez as Princess Margaret.
Showing the same dab hand at crafting a compelling tale from real events as he did with John Adams and The Damned United, Tom Hooper has bottled lightning with The Kings Speech. It’s one of those films that requires you experience it in order to truly appreciate it. I really cannot recommend this film enough and it will no doubt be ably represented in the award season.
The Trailer to The Kings Speech