The King's Speech
The film opens with Colin Firth's King George VI (not yet a King) struggling to give a speech to a packed Wembley stadium in the early 30s. His stammer creates a deafening silence around the stadium as he struggles to get out the words. His loyal wife, Queen Elizabeth (a thankfully subdued Bonham Carter) manages to find a speech therapist with a proven track record - but unconventional methods. Over several years Firth's put upon King and Geoffrey Rush's eccentric, but pioneering almost-shrink come to be unlikely friends.
While The King's Speech doesn't get under the skin of anyone other than Firth's monarch, it still boasts universally excellent performances that are more concerned with fitting into the production naturally than showboating. Firth in particular is very good; the stammer would've been milked by lesser actors, but the man who was eye-totty Darcy does the majority of his fine work in the panic-ridden moments before an important address. It is his best performance to date, and he deserves the plaudits already flowing his way.
Kudos too to Rush, whose speech therapist could easily have come off as a parody of Doc Brown if played overly ostentatious. He's funny when he's supposed to be, but never overtly so. Scenes are made better by his breezy but substantial presence, and the laughs are organic to the type of source material that is normally uppity to say the least.
Credit then to The Damned Utd helmer Hooper for his steady, open direction, that doesn't fall into the pitfalls of the - often crusty - modern made period piece. He also shoots a surprisingly striking film, with 1930s London engulfed in mist and pushy figures.
An interesting, engaging biopic elevated even further by strong performances.
Story by Mike Sheridan | 09:00 | Friday 6th May 2011 | DVD review
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