Prince Albert was always a well respected leader and Duke in England and among the family but the rise of the wireless during his time forced him into the public eye in a way that never suited him; as a public speaker. Albert was the confidant and by the books second son of George V and Albert was more than content and resigned to his role as the next in line behind his brother Edward. But when Albert begins work with a new speech therapist, Lionel Louge, his previous unfounded progress with his impediment begins to appear. Both Louge and Albert’s wife, Elizabeth, begin to see a potential future on the thrown if Edward continues down his current path of un-royal actions, but that is something that Albert both fears and is reluctant to embrace.
The premise of the film seems like it would be an incredibly dull and dry affair but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Tom Hooper has craft a brisk and compelling narrative with his film and he will affect your eyes, heart, and funny bone along the way. Watching Albert grow into George VI is as mesmerizing as his overcoming of his speech impediment and the later is told masterfully and as about as entertaining as one could hope for. Whether it is a long back and forth between Louge and Albert or a fantastic montage of Albert’s progress/vocal exercises, the speech scenes are fantastic and some of my favorites of the year. Hooper makes the potentially dull beautiful and cinematic and he uses every trick up his sleeve to make speech work compelling. The look of the film is also magnificent and the production team does a marvelous job recreating the era from the poor streets Louge lives on to the tailored army uniforms Albert wears.
The actors in the film are also a marvel with some of the best performances of the year coming from both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as Albert and Louge, respectively. Firth is about as good here as he was last year in a Single Man and that is really saying something. Whether Firth is in a touching moment with his daughters, a sweet nothing with Elizabeth, flying off the handle with Louge, or pleading with his brother to change his was, Firth’s performance never wavers. Firth is also incredibly convincing as a man with a speech impediment and shows a subtle improvement throughout the picture that is just remarkable. When Firth and Rush are on screen together though is when the film reaches its highest heights. The two just play so wonderfully off one another, challenging each other along the way, and they are one of the best on screen duos of the year. Rush delivers great work as always again here as he has a fire and sternness with Albert that is controlling yet respectful and watching their somewhat forbidden friendship grow is the heart of the film. Helena Bonham Carter is great as well here as Elizabeth and she provides the perfect balance of what every Duchess/Queen should be, the voice of strength and reason behind her man. Guy Pearce sneaks his way into another great film as Edward and strikes the right bit of confidence/defiance/loyalty to his role as heir to make the character tragic but respectable. Rounding out the cast is Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and he plays the rather bullish figure role more than adequately under a lot of jowl makeup.
In the end, The King’s Speech is another great entry into the 2010 film year. Featuring fantastic performances and a surprisingly brilliant cinematic telling of this engaging story one can’t ask for much more from Tom Hooper’s film. Fans of just about every genre will find something to enjoy here unless you expect Albert to run into battle against the Nazi’s with a couple AK-47’s. The film is not to be missed as it is one of the years best and is another entry into an already crowded docket of great films this season.
The King’s Speech is an A