Director: Tom Hooper
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Jennifer Ehle, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacob, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, Claire Bloom, Eve Best, Anthony Andrews
1 hr 58 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG (Some Coarse Language)
Official Website: http://www.kingsspeech.com/
Opening Day: 10 February 2011
Synopsis: After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of Prince Edward VII's (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.
With the big Oscar hype (12 Academy nominations, no less)
surrounding it at the moment, The King’s Speech has
found in its hands a big local audience expectation to fulfil.
Fortunately, it does so with little stammer, largely and ironically
thanks to Colin Firth’s Bertie. As if public speaking
is not fearsome enough, the soon-to-be king has to overcome
his speech impediment and the personal demons that led to
it in order to speak to and for a few million British subjects.
The condition is portrayed with such heartbreaking anguish
that it is quite impossible to not feel for the character.
While the future King George VI or Bertie as known to his
family, struggles through guttural sounds, open-mouthed silence
and pained eyes, his own voice seems to literally choke rather
than express him. Firth is also aided by shots and scenes
that take time to magnify the frustration in his expression
and project every vocal sound that he attempts to and successfully
makes. One thing that the film is successful in is representing
and relating to the audience the physical experience of a
person who stammers not to invoke pity, but the compassion
to root for the character.
And like all good dramas, it does not leave out character
psyche. Enter Geoffrey Rush’s charming and warm character
of speech therapist Lionel Logue and his unorthodox cures
to help. As he searches for the mental root of the condition,
layers are uncovered to reveal the man beneath the crown.
Friendship between the two eventually blossoms, but not without
the resistance of stifling subject-royalty protocols, the
king’s own hopelessness for his lifelong condition and
his anxiety towards ascending the throne. One particular moving
scene sees the head of the British monarch breaking down in
his wife’s arms because of his sudden kingship thanks
to his elder brother’s free-spiritedness. As King Edward
VII leaves the court to marry a twice-divorced American, one
cannot help but feel slightly more informed about the sometimes
tragic ways of royalty and notice that times have indeed changed.
Prince Charles, anyone?
As not unexpected, The King’s Speech joins a handful
line of films that attempt to reveal the private side of the
public figure for the ever-curious common masses. It is indeed
quite a treat to watch the Queen’s Mother as a supportive
and loving wife and recognise other significant figures like
William Churchill and Prince Harry’s granny as a young
girl even if they are well, not really the real deal.
True to its historical genre, the wardrobe and setting are
carefully created to give us a glimpse into the lives of rulers
and royalty while at the same time evoking the mood of an
era where change was happening as fast as the Second World
War was approaching.
And as King George VI finally faces the wireless mic - the
high-tech product of its time and symbol that appears regularly
throughout the film, to boldly and fluently deliver his first
wartime message for his people, one cannot help but wonder
that underneath the simple heart-warming story of a man overcoming
his odds, there might be a subtle social commentary on how
much we, the internet/smartphone generation, have not really
taken the time to appreciate the simple act of communication
or use it for nobler purposes. And if so, I’m rooting
for this one to win some Oscars.
(An inspiring story not about what a King says, but how he
Reviewed by Siti Nursyafiqa