Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Case for Being Speechless

Let's not beat around the bush: The King's Speech is a wonderful movie.

It's not an action flick. In fact, it is all fairly low key, with a lot of talking heads and the odd historical newsreel thrown in. And this is definitely Colin Firth's film.

The amount of speech therapy Firth must have gone through to make him sound like he needed speech therapy is impressive. Firth can play the emotionally repressed Englishman with his eyes closed (isn't that what he does in most of his roles?), and such a talent makes him the perfect for the role of the stuttering Prince who became King just before the British Empire was plunged into the Second World War.

Of course, the supporting cast is no bunch of slouchers: Jeffrey Rush gets to be an Australian as the miracle speech therapist, and Helena Bonham Carter gets to shed the insane image from the Harry Potter film and becomes all dowdy and short in her role as Queen Elizabeth, who would later be known as the Queen Mother.

Around these three, the film revolves. Timothy Spall and Guy Pearce also show up (Pearce playing Firth's older brother, though he is about 10 years his junior - though I had to check that on IMDB to be sure), and there are a host of other Fine British Thespian Talent in other supporting roles, but, like a lot of the drab smoggy scenery, they all kind of fade into the background as the main characters dominate the screen.

There's not much point going into the story, as it is quite straight forward: man with speech impediment finds an unorthodox tutor who helps him through both his disability and through some traumatic personal experiences as well. But the way it is all done, with the palpable discomfort when Albert first speaks in public to the nods to the Firm and the changing times, is so engrossing that the almost 2 hour running time just flies by.

Verdict: The King's Speech was great film with which to start my 2011 Cinematic Season, and I am sure it will get a whole heap of BAFTAs and Oscars at the upcoming awards ceremonies. There is a bit of swearing in there, but it's otherwise a simple G-rated tale well told. 9 stutters out of 10.

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