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“The King’s Speech”: A fine way to spend a couple of hours

By Rose Taylor
Published: March 2011

The 83rd Annual Academy Award’s show was broadcasted on Sunday, February 27, drawing some 38 million viewers.
Although the Academy’s production was obviously orchestrated to cater to a younger audience, especially with its hosts, it was tradition and history that won the statuettes, with The King’s Speech taking home Best Picture, Best Director for Tom Hooper, and Best Actor for Colin Firth.
The King’s Speech, which is based on a true story, stars Colin Firth, whose character is preparing to be crowned King George VI of England. However, there is one stumbling block on his way to the throne: his stammer.
Bogus speech therapists have him gargle marbles for his diction and smoke cigarettes, but the real help finally arrives in the form of Geoffrey Rush as charming, clever, dare-I-say-bromance-worthy Lionel Logue. Logue enters the not-yet-king’s life with a bang, insisting on calling him “Bertie” to maintain equality during the speech lessons, prescribing a beautifully scored montage of speech exercises.
These include furiously shouting consonants (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a red-faced Colin Firth pop into frame and spit out “MUH!”), swearing (Bertie doesn’t ever stammer when he’s angry) and breathing deeply as his wife (the delightful Helena Bonham Carter, taking a break from her Bellatrix Lestrange wig) sits on his stomach “to strengthen his diaphragm.”
Director Tom Hooper focuses on the relationship between Lionel and Bertie throughout the film.
Rush and Firth balance the precarious king-subject and friend-friend relationship with just the right amount of tension and sentiment that occasionally it is hard to tell whether Rush, nominated for Best Supporting Actor, is being deliberately impertinent or merely trying to get Bertie to loosen his collar.
Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth II, is superb, not getting in the way of the Lionel-Bertie relationship but quietly and wisely encouraging it from the sidelines.
Less interesting and effective are the various political and royal subplots of the film, which include Bertie’s older brother’s abdication (annoying man who’s completely wrong for the throne wants to marry annoying, recently divorced woman, yet parents like him better than Bertie); his father’s fearsomeness (King George V was mean and scary to Bertie about his stammer, wouldn’t let him build model airplanes); and the overall palace disapproval of Logue (all the posh officials except Bertie and Elizabeth don’t trust his methods). These subplots were all either given too little space to develop or simply unnecessary, as Firth and Rush had it all covered without additional conflicts.
Despite these little blips, The King’s Speech was an exceptionally British good time and a fine way to spend a couple of hours.
Run, don’t walk if you enjoy intelligent cinema with charm, humor, deep feeling, and nostalgia

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