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January 28, 2011
Review - " The King's Speech "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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The King's Speech
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek
Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce

I don't know what possessed me to wait so long before getting out
to see this marvelous film. Elegant and beautifully layered, the King’
s Speech proves that with terrific performances, top notch writing
and a sure hand behind the camera even the most pedestrian
stories on paper can be elevated to greatness.

The King’s Speech tells the story of the rise to power of King
George VI (Colin Firth) against the backdrop of his effort to rid
himself of a debilitating stammer. Opening with a devastating
speech attempt at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in
October of 1925, the film follows then Duke Albert as he begins
speech therapy with eccentric Australian speech therapist Lionel
Logue (Geoffrey Rush) through his father King George V’s (Michael
Gambon) death, his brother Edward’s (Guy Pearce) ascension to
and abdication of the throne to his own coronation and early reign.
Given the drama going on around him as he attempts to get his
speaking under control one might think that it was a silly thing for
the film to focus on but the story is told so well and with such good
performances that the Duke’s struggles with his stammer are
engaging and compelling even without the rest of the intrigue and

One of the interesting things about the writing is the structure which
treats more important historical events as incidental to the main
story being told, which on the surface seems to be much less
important. This is part of the seamless layering that hands you a lot of different concurrent stories but does so in such away
that nothing feels jumbled or out of place. It also highlights how seemingly minor issues can have a profound effect on a
person’s life and in this case the lives of an entire nation. When you are dealing with a King and the looming threat of war,
being able to speak confidently is a fairly big deal. A voice of a nation who cannot use that voice is not of much good to
anyone particularly when they need major reassurance as war looms.

Of all the themes to be taken from the movie,
the one that speaks most directly to me is the
notion that regardless of your rank or status
in life, small seemingly insignificant problems
and disorders can cause massive problems in
your life. Colin Firth is tremendous at bringing
this across on the screen. You can see the
frustration in him as he tries to get his speech
under control and the barely contained rage
that is bubbling just under the surface pretty
much all the time. His performance feels very
authentic and he delivers the issues with his
speech as if he has stammered since
childhood. Firth here does more with his eyes
and facial expressions than most actors can
manage with their entire bodies.

Firth’s performance is not the only one that is top shelf. Geoffrey Rush is, as always, an absolute delight to watch. It looks
like it is perhaps the easier of the two performances between therapist and patient because he is quirky and funny but
Rush does a fair amount of subtle, physical acting as well. The quiet moments between the two men inform the audience
just as much as their full conversations. Further, the chemistry between them helps to really sell the relationship as well.
Through ups and downs their relationship feels very authentic and the audience can’t help but care deeply about how it all
turns out.

The other performances are equally as good and watching this movie may as well be an acting clinic on how to carry this
sort of material. Even Helena Bonham Carter, who often chooses off-beat and bizarre roles, excels at a reasonably normal
role as Queen Elizabeth. Guy Pearce also turns in a great performance as King Edward VIII in a role that again could have
been undersold or overblown but Pearce finds just the right balance for the character and manages to make him
sympathetic even when he is doing fairly ridiculous things.

The King’s Speech could have easily been a stuffy period piece with no joy to be found but even at its most dramatic the
film delivers clever and often funny dialogue which makes the proceedings feel that much more natural. This is just another
example of what makes this film feel so real. It isn’t satisfied to just do one thing well but it does everything it aims at well. I
could honestly just sit and listen to these actors deliver this dialogue regardless of what else was going on in the movie.
As it is, the stories told are interesting and
it is delivered in a very interesting way. Put
all together and you have a nearly perfect

The King’s Speech is just an excellent
movie all around. There is nothing it does
poorly and even if the story isn’t the most
earth shattering, it doesn’t matter. It is
elegant and expertly made and is a joy to
watch. The performances are stellar and
the writing is superb. There are a lot of
things that could of gone wrong but as it
turns out, none of them did. Excellent.