THE KING'S SPEECH (B-)
Full review: http://www.deconstructors.com
It’s Oscar consideration season, so that means Hollywood primarily trots out two types of movies: quality films and acting showcases. The latter are movies that offer up serious thespians, meaty dialogue, fancy costumes and pretty scenery.
Ehhh… not so much.
The King’s Speech is just that sort of movie – however, it is admittedly a fairly good one.
The film is based on the real-life story of Albert “Bertie” Frederick Arthur George – second son of King George V of England. Being Number Two, it was not believed the then-Duke of York would ever assume the throne, so he remained out of the spotlight, for the most part… which was a good thing for him, given the fact that he spoke with a fairly pronounced stammer.
However, things would quickly change. George V died and Albert’s older brother had a hankering for married ladies (a royal no-no), ultimately abdicating the throne to be with American socialite Wallis Simpson. So, “Bertie” assumed the throne, albeit reluctantly. And almost exclusively because of his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, the English people didn’t lose faith in the crown or the British Empire on the eve of their entrance into World War II. Heck, he even may have won it for the good guys. Or so the movie would have you believe.
O’ THERAPIST, MY THERAPIST!
Rush plays Logue with as the stereotypical expert with “unusual methods”… the kind of guy who doesn’t allow a Prince of England to smoke in his office and makes the future king of England come to him instead of the other way around (I’m sure that’s the way it went and that it had nothing to do with Prince Albert not wanting anyone in Windsor Castle to know he was seeing a speech therapist). And of course, wouldn’t you know Logue finds a way to unlock all those repressed childhood stressors from the recesses of Bertie’s mind, allowing him to build confidence and become the future king, guiding England against the Nazis with aplomb (with a little help from some guy named Churchill).
Yeah, I know… it’s all a bit o’ rubbish, guv’ner… except for one thing. The actors in the movie are really, really good. Colin Firth’s Bertie comes off as genuine and truly vulnerable (the scene where he tells his two daughters a bedtime story, struggling through every syllable, made even my heart grow two sizes that day). Because of his performance, I found myself rooting for the future King George VI throughout the movie.
On the flip side, nothing actually happens in this thing. There is therapy and more therapy… which is okay. But the movie falters in trying to introduce drama simply for drama’s sake (Guy Pearce’s conflicted King Edward makes no sense – he’s partying and accusing his brother of trying to knock him off the throne one minute and crying about how he can’t do it the next; a scene where Bertie calls out Logue for not being an actual doctor – and the subsequent 30-second resolution – is wildly out of place).
I have no real interest in English royalty. I’d imagine someone who does (like, say, my wife… who’s already making plans with my four year-old daughter to watch Prince Willie’s wedding next year. I think it’s next year…) would likely find this movie that much more entertaining.
As for me, the acting kept me engaged and, at times, even moved. Most of all, I loved Firth and think he’ll get a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this (they all will, actually – Bonham Carter and Rush, too). There’s even a good chance he’ll win.
See it for him and you’ll come away pleased.
[Rated R for language.]