Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Timothy Spall
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler
Cinematography: Danny Cohen
Original Score: Alexandre Desplat
Running Time: 118 mins.
Colin Firth’s stock has fast been on the rise, always a dependable actor who provided quality and class in both period fare (Pride and Prejudice) and romantic comedy (Bridget Jones Diary) but since his appearance in Tom Ford’s A Single Man last year there were depths revealed that had never before been seen, nuanced and hugely touching to add to those aforementioned qualities. The King’s Speech from another Tom (of the Hooper variety) allows Firth to once again mine those depths and supply us with another quite wonderful turn that should garner awards attention once again, though this is a performance, and indeed a film, worth so much more than just praise for its worth, it is a film that proves touching and emotional breaking away the barrier of clinical coldness that marked out A Single Man.
The King’s Speech is a film quite clearly steeped in history, and not just history in a general sense but history that is rooted very close t the heart’s of us Brits, King George VI being the great-grandfather of Prince William who is to wed this year and father of our current Queen. This does not mean you need to be a royalist to enjoy, or certainly empathise with, the film being as much about intimate relationships in general as it is about a class divide, yes both these issues are raised and dealt with but the relationship between George (bertie to family and eventually Lionel Logue) and Lionel Logue himself (Geoffrey Rush).
It is here, in the scenes between Logue and Bertie, that the film is won and marks itself out as something more than just a representation of a period of time and episode in the history of the monarchy. Of course the backdrop is of the utmost importance, Bertie must overcome his stammer as the liklihood he will become King owing to his brother’s impending abdication, with the job clearly comes a lot of public speaking especially as the use of the wireless grows to exponential levels. Add to this a potential second world war owing to some bloke called Hitler parading his way across Europe, the British people can’t avoid being involved for much longer and as Timothy Spall’s Winston Churchill looms prophesising what is to become of the nation should things carry on as they are we know that someone needs to step-up…as it were!
When Bertie is finally forced into rising to the challenge and become George VI all the legwork to craft characters you care for pays dividends in a big way, these are not the Royal’s as we see them, a faceless business or establishment for a country rather they are a family pulling together in the face of hardship, particularly Bertie’s wife (the late Queen mother) who as played by Helena Bonham Carter is a dignified and unassuming presence, odd given her usual repertoire! Add to this a rather sinister Archbishop (Jacobi) and Guy Pearce playing Bertie’s brother, David, to almost pantomime proportions that still managed to be grounded in reality and serve to highlight his surface arrogance/strength against Bertie’s more dignified and quiet nature.
Hooper, previously directed the rather surprisingly great The Damned United, that was a film about two man, a bromance if you will that just happened to happen against a backdrop of football, even those hating the supposed “beautiful game” could enjoy the treats served up by the actors (Spall and Sheen in that case) and some superb direction that framed scenes with expert precision and paced a story about the friendship between two men to perfection, never once dropping the ball leaving the audience ether bored or unengaged. The same applies here, ten-fold as Firth and Rush are two of the worlds best actors performing at the top of their game, with warmth and truth that allows you to forget they are doing just that, acting.
The King’s Speech is the perfect “bromance”! This may seem to sound like I am under-selling the film but it carefully and perfectly presents a real and touching relationship between two men that just happens to be set against a significant event in our history, a film rarely achieves this kind of emotional depth in it’s characters.