The King's Speech concerns King George VI (Colin Firth) of England, beginning when he's just a spare heir with an ailing father and a playboy older brother who is set to inherit the throne. He also has two beautiful daughters, a very supportive wife (Helena Bonham Carter), and a dreadful stammer. Oh, and his name isn't George at all, it's Albert. Got it?
|Albert (Colin Firth) and Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter)|
Right, so his wife convinces him to try this new speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who has unorthodox methods but gets Albert speaking more clearly. Then King George V (Michael Gambon) dies, and Albert's older brother becomes King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) but insists he wants to marry this twice-divorced woman, which totally can't happen since as king he's also head of the Church of England and they won't hear of it, especially the Archbishop (a perpetually affronted Derek Jacobi). Edward abdicates and Albert takes the name George and is king, king, king!!!
Except he doesn't want to be king, he's scared out of his bowtie, and he still stammers dreadfully. Oh, and did I mention there's this dude named Hitler trying to take over the universe? Let the good times roll.
Colin Firth deserved his Oscar, I will say that. He's conflicted and sad and sometimes pathetic, but also brave and intelligent and so horribly, horribly aware of his speech impediment. I can't imagine what it must be like to turn in such a brutally bare performance, and I don't want to -- I spent the whole movie feeling extremely sad for Albert, and to play him, much less be him? Ouch. This is not a comfortable movie to watch, though it does have a triumphant ending. But I don't think I'll be rewatching it, at least not for many years.
|Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth|
I wanted to see this mainly because I was eager to see Helena Bonham Carter playing a character who wasn't Miss Havisham with a hairspray addiction. And I absolutely loved her! She was hands-down my favorite character -- her Elizabeth was supportive without being pushy, affectionate without being saccharine. Wonderful.
|Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush)|
Who but Geoffrey Rush to play a rough-and-ready therapist? Not much to say about him, other than that he did not disappoint. Does he ever? Not one of my favorite actors, but definitely one I respect.
|Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall)|
There was only one actor that I couldn't quite accept in their role, and that was Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. And that was partly because I couldn't rid my mind of his performances as Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew in the Harry Potter movies. Plus, his only resemblance to Churchill was his balding head and the way he pushed his lower lip out all the time -- he looked more like Alfred Hitchcock to me, but whatever, he had a tiny role anyway.
I love everything about the WWII era (well, everything except all the horrible death and destruction), so I found all the costumes here so delightful! This is the eve of WWII, of course, but close enough. This is the one costume I remembered most now that it's been a few days since I watched this:
It struck me at the time as being very much a costume -- and I don't mean the movie kind, exactly. I mean that he was quite obviously dressed up to look the way everyone expected the new king to look, wearing all sorts of traditional male frippery.
I loved this one, though, mostly cuz I have a thing for suspenders:
And I love this shot of Elizabeth pouring tea:
She has a lot of furs, and some of the most magnificent hats. This one was particularly striking, but she wore all of them with great panache:
Lionel Logue mostly wore very tweedy, fade-into-the-background clothes, as befitted his role as the man behind the king's speech improvements:
Right, so this is rated R because Lionel discovers Bertie doesn't stammer when he curses, so he gets him to shout out every single curse word he knows, yelling obscenity after obscenity in an emotionally relieving torrent. There are a couple other moments where he tosses off a few obscenities to get into the flow of speaking, so you can't just skip that one scene and be safe. Best to either find a Bowdlerized version or watch with a trusted friend who knows which bits to mute, if you are adverse to hearing some completely out-of-context but very strong swear words. Other than that, there are a couple mentions of people enjoying a woman's favors (using that exact phrase), and that's all that I could find objectionable.
At any rate, a lovingly crafted movie, meticulously recreating the world as it once was. Blissfully, deliciously acted. Worth the praise it has acquired, in my opinion.