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The King’s Speech

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Plot: After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING’S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice. ~The Weinstein Company

Rating: R for some language (There is one scene of over the top, ridiculously funny swearing which is part of Bertie’s speech therapy. Without this scene, I think it would have gotten a PG rating.)

Genre: Drama

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi

Director: Tom Hooper

Running Time: 1:58

Kate says – 4 stars I’ll just start off by telling you that The King’s Speech is hands down the best movie I’ve seen in a very, very long time. I’ll also tell you that if you have to go out of your way to get to this movie if it is not playing anywhere near you, do it. It will be well worth your effort. This film is witty, charming, elegant, inspirational, intelligent, subtle, and above all poignant. In fact, I could use all of the flowery adjectives at my disposal in the online thesaurus, and I still wouldn’t be able to adequately describe the wonderfulness of  this movie. The King’s Speech will certainly garner a whole gaggle of Oscar nominations, and I predict Firth will finally get his long deserved best actor win this year.

I think Marshall Fine'(of Hollywood and Fine) best sums up the acting of Firth, Rush and Bonham Carter.

Firth is perfect here, his eyes almost bleeding with the terror he feels at any moment of potential embarrassment. As he waits to speak to a crowd, Firth perfectly captures the look of a man facing the gallows or otherwise feeling doomed. Yet he also finds Bertie’s temper and his spine, his compassion and his seriousness. And he has the stammer down expertly so that it feels like an organic and unwanted intrusion every time he speaks.

Yet Rush has the more difficult role and handles it expertly. He delivers Logue’s sly one-liners with expert timing and just the right bite. But Logue must spend more of the film simply reacting and thinking, calculating and calibrating. It’s a study in the ability to listen and be interesting at the same time.

Bonham Carter makes this a triangle – a sounding board and support for her husband, a brake on Logue’s excesses, always without raising her voice or anything more than an eyebrow, really. It is a controlled and effective performance, creating a character who both lives within and feels constricted by the demands of having married into royalty.

Restraint, in fact, is what makes “The King’s Speech” so moving. Here is a film about people who rarely get to express their feelings (not that they get to have emotional outbursts here). Yet they convey both the sense of repressed feeling and, ultimately, the sense of freedom and release portrayed by the relationships in this film.

Which means that “The King’s Speech” will make you laugh more than you imagine – and touch you more deeply than you expect.

Ebert says -4 stars “If the British monarchy is good for nothing else, it’s superb at producing the subjects of films. Director Tom Hooper makes an interesting decision with his sets and visuals. The movie is largely shot in interiors, and most of those spaces are long and narrow. That’s unusual in historical dramas, which emphasize sweep and majesty and so on. Here we have long corridors, a deep and narrow master control room for the BBC, rooms that seem peculiarly oblong. I suspect he may be evoking the narrow, constricting walls of Albert’s throat as he struggles to get words out.” (read full review)

Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) says 3 1/2 stars “It could have been a bunch of pip-pip, stiff-upper-lip Brit blather about a stuttering king who learns to stop worrying and love the microphone. Instead, The King’s Speech — a crowning achievement powered by a dream cast — digs vibrant human drama out of the dry dust of history.” (read full review)

Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel) says – 4 stars “One of the best films of 2010 captures the funny, touching and inspiring relationship between the man who will become King George VI (Colin Firth) and the brash Aussie (Geoffrey Rush) who tries to figure out why he stutters, and to help him over it so that the free world won’t despair every time the stammering, stuttering George opens his mouth.” (read full review)

Claudia Puig (USA Today) says – 4 stars “Let’s say it without equivocation: Colin Firth deserves an Oscar for his lead role in The King’s Speech as the stammering King George VI. Even though we know how the movie will conclude, it’s the getting there that counts. It’s rare to feel sympathy for someone so privileged. Bertie comes off strikingly human, as close to an Everyman as someone of his status can be. There’s nothing particularly regal or admirable in his frustration and despairing tendency to want to quit.” (read full review)

Eric Snider (Snide Remarks) says – “A-“ “The King’s Speech” is an enormously entertaining picture that proves you can make an enormously entertaining picture out of familiar elements. It’s the very definition of a movie with widespread grown-up appeal, perfect for snotty movie critics and regular people alike. The scenes between Firth and Rush — which I’m happy to say occupy most of the film — are nuggets of delight.” (read full review)

(Images from The Weinstein Company)

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