In the spirit of yesterday’s Oscar nominations…
EW Description: “Colin Firth’s tour de force performance as a stuttering King George VI on the brink of a world war has been inspiring a lot of praise. And rightly so: It’s a crowning achievement in a royally outstanding film.”
For those of you who do not know what the film is about, I’ll expand a bit further than the typical “King George stutters.” Colin Firth plays King George VI. He begins the movie as Albert “Bertie,” the Duke of York. He has had a severe stuttering problem for nearly his entire life, to the point that public speaking is basically out of the question. Bertie is pretty much resigned to the fact that he’s always going to have a stammer, but his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) is determined to cure him. She takes him to every speech therapist in England. Nothing really works. Then Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) comes into the picture. Through his unorthodox techniques, Bertie begins to show improvement. Then some stuff goes down (dad dies, brother abdicates, Bertie becomes King George VI) and he basically flips his shit. Then World War II starts and Bertie has to toughen up and lead the country.
Let’s just face it. Colin Firth will win the Oscar for Best Actor. If he doesn’t, there might be a revolt. It would surely be one of the most shocking upsets in recent Oscar history. I just can’t see that happening, and for good reason. Colin Firth is fucking amazing in this role. He not only vocalizes the frustration Bertie feels, but you can see the anguish in his face when he’s stuttering. He perfectly shows how Bertie can fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, but then he instantly pulls it back. He’s not an actor performing a role. He’s living the part. Plus, he’s really adorable when he curses and during one of his therapy sessions, he seems like a person with Tourette’s spouting off every random curse word. I feel like he should have to say “shit and tits” in every movie he’s in from now on. It’s just funny and cute.
While Firth is certainly the star of the show, his supporting cast isn’t exactly blending into the background. As Logue, Geoffrey Rush is absolutely phenomenal. He’s eccentric, but he doesn’t go over the top. It’s a very contained uniqueness. The therapy sessions between Logue and Bertie are without a doubt the best scenes in the film. It’s great to see two actors giving amazing performances in their scenes together. It’s just fun to watch.
Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do as Elizabeth, but she does great with what she has. Carter plays Elizabeth as a very proper, determined woman, but she definitely has a bit of sass in there. She even made me forget that I normally see her as Bellatrix from Harry Potter. This is honestly the first time I’ve seen Carter act in a film and not be terrified of her.
The script is phenomenal. The first hour felt like it dragged on a little bit, but the second hour passes in a whirlwind and left me wanting more. This could have been a very dry, “inspirational” (in the bad cheesy way) film, but it was so much more than that. Yes, it was inspirational, but in an authentic way. It also had a very dry wit to it, which I greatly appreciated.
Beyond the actors, director Tom Hooper truly made this film the amazing piece of cinema that it is. Hooper knows how to use the camera to enhance the story. He uses close-ups during the therapy sessions so flawlessly that I felt the pain Firth was expressing. He films the microphones and radios in a way that makes them feel as intimidating as Bertie finds them. The camera is almost a character of its own. It’s the narrator, guiding us through Bertie’s feelings and emotions.
Come Oscar night, expect to see The King’s Speech rewarded greatly. If any film can take down The Social Network, this is probably it.