The King's Speech (2011) – Film Review

With the help of Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth has to overcome a promblematic speech impediment in order to provide The King's Speech...

The King’s Speech tells the story of King George VI who only became King of Britain because his brother Edward abdicated the throne. Thrust into the spotlight at a time when Britain is on the verge of war with Germany, George faces intense pressure to live up to his title whilst also being assigned with the not-so-easy task of delivering reassuring speeches to the nation at a time of unrest. The only problem is that George has a serious speech impediment and stammers on nearly every word. But this film is much more than just a man trying to cure his stammer…it is b-b-bloody f-f-fantastic.

Colin Firth plays the King also known as Bertie by those close to him. We soon learn how he spent a lifetime living in the shadows of these people. His brother Edward, played by Guy Pearce, was always favoured by his father (the King) and it also becomes apparent that Bertie was a victim of an abusive Nanny. The only support he ever received was from his loving wife Elizabeth (a.k.a. The Queen Mother) played by Helena Bonham Carter. So when Bertie fails to deliver a speech to an overwhelming crowd at Wembley Stadium, Elizabeth searches for help, help that is found in the shape of an unorthodox speech therapist called Lionel Logue…please step forward Geoffrey Rush and take a bow.

Rush, perhaps best known for his role as the evil Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, delivers a truly wonderful performance as the man responsible for ensuring the nation can hear their King. The chemistry between Bertie and Lionel is electric and they form an unlikely friendship. The class barriers are removed and they become familiar with one another on a first name basis. We see the King’s more relaxed side and this brings some great comedic moments, most notably when Lionel encourages Bertie to let steam off by swearing at the top his voice. There is also a tear-jerker of a scene in which Bertie recounts his troubled childhood to Lionel, seeing Firth sing his history because the memories are too painful and he is unable to speak of it without stammering. The mixture of emotions found in this friendship speaks for the film too. It is a powerful, hilarious and deeply moving film that allows us to see a relationship between two men who would otherwise never have socially interacted.

Let us not forget about the climax of the film… the speech itself. On his walk to the microphone you will find yourself holding your breath and that your own nerves are doing somersaults. The excellent and tense build up to this climax ensures that you really feel for Bertie. Without revealing too much of the ending I can guarantee you a ‘spine tingler’ of a scene.

The King’s Speech is a great British movie that explores some of our history and takes it to a personal level which offers a great insight into the true story behind one of our King’s – I even predict an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Firth is outstanding and inspiring in portraying a courageous man who has been psychologically scarred who is faced with being King at such a terrible time. Rush brings so much to the movie and his determined, witty, never-say-never attitude will surely ensure that his name will be on the Best Supporting Actor’s shortlist.

Best performance: It’s close but the stammering Firth wins.

Early in his career, director David Seidler asked the Queen Mother for permission to write this screenplay. She agreed but insisted that it not be in her lifetime because the memories would be too painful.

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