Review: THE KING'S SPEECH (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Review: THE KING'S SPEECH (2010)

RATING: 3.5/5

The little British movie that can. Who could have thought that a movie about speech impediment and a character (in this case, King George VI) who has a stammer, managed to be both crowd-pleasing and inspiring at the same time? In THE KING'S SPEECH, this Tom Hooper's period drama does just that with a striking chord -- it's this year's among best movie you've ever come across. Not only that, this is also the movie that solidifying Colin Firth as one of the best British actors of his generation since his Oscar-nominated turn in 2009's A SINGLE MAN.

The plot, in the meantime, is deceptively simple: When England's King George V (Michael Gambon) dies in 1936, the throne is ultimately passed down to eldest son King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) -- the very reign that his younger brother, the Duke of York, later King George VI (Firth) wanted to claim the royal crown very much. Unfortunately there's a little problem that prevents him from doing so -- he develops a stammer that unable him to deliver proper speech ever since childhood. Because of speech impediment alone, he doesn't have the necessary voice authority and most of all, courage to lead his country at all. The Duke, in which his nickname is "Bertie", is simply very frustrated. However, his ever-supportive wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) is making sure that he'll succeed to overcome his speech impediment one way or another. Enter Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an aspiring actor and professional speech therapist who is called upon by Elizabeth to help Bertie. At the beginning, Lionel deals with a great amount of pressure trying to reason with such a stubborn person like Bertie. But from time to time, both Lionel and Bertie are slowly becoming unlikely friends as they help each other to overcome the problem. Thanks to Lionel's unorthodox method, tBertie's speech impediment is subsequently progressing into a better flow and it doesn't take long before Bertie finally have the courage to step up as a king especially after King Edward VIII gives up his throne when he chooses to marry his forbidden love which happens to be a divorcee.

At the heart of the movie is an unlikely friendship blooming between a royal and a commoner that David Seidler's screenplay has beautifully portrayed this nuanced gesture with delightful result. But the most unique aspect about this movie is an inspiring true story about how King George VI overcome his stammer with sheer determination that ultimately lead him to a success of delivering his first-ever, smooth-flowing speech at the national radio. Seidler, who suffered from a stammer as a child himself, knows well how to spin such story element and blends them with juicy dialogue, witty verbal exchanges and wonderfully hilarious moments mostly revolving around Bertie and Lionel.

Speaking of Bertie and Lionel, the movie is also best seen for these two actor's heavyweight showcase of great talents. -- Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. When they first met, it's hard not to take your eyes off them because the way they interact each other is simply wonderful to watch for. Not surprisingly, Firth (a role that originally given to Paul Bettany, but declined to spend more time with his family) is certainly magnificent in the lead role as a man with disability and delivers a very convincing physical frustration (eye squints, hand gestures) that makes him such a great method actor. No doubt come award-season time, his remarkably flawless performance is the one to watch for. Lending the strong support is Rush, who is equally dynamic as the speech therapist who isn't afraid of status quo and provides most of the movie's best laugh lines. Helena Bonham Carter, often cast as weirdo in the past (e.g. HARRY POTTER), delivers a refreshing change-of-pace in a well-mannered role as a calm-headed wife.

Tom Hooper's direction is pretty much straightforward, clean and crisp as he favors the good old-fashioned steady shot and doesn't rely on creative camera angles to prove his point. Instead he believes that minimalism is simply more than enough to deliver a good movie especially with great support from excellent cast and equally effective screenplay held altogether. All the technical credits are distinctively top-notch, with production designer Eve Stewart successfully recreates turbulent era of the 1930s England, while Alexandre Desplat composed some of the most beautifully atmospheric scores ever heard in a movie.

Though THE KING'S SPEECH is a well-made movie, there are times it feels manipulative and a bit overrated especially with all the massive hype has generated it all over the place. But this is just minor nitpicking, because THE KING'S SPEECH remains a movie not to be missed.

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