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Overall Rating

Awesome: 45.65%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 4.35%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 28 user ratings

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King's Speech, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The Voice of England."
4 stars

"The King's Speech" reminds us how much easier it must have been to be a leader before the advent of audio recording.

Decades of biographical films have conditioned us to think of Abraham Lincoln as a booming, sonorous orator, because we have no tapes of him; but the real Lincoln might not have gotten far today, what with his "shrill, squeaking, piping, unpleasant" voice, as described by his law partner. Prince Albert, Duke of York, who became king in 1936, must also have cursed sound technology; he had a terrible stammer, and he would have to supply a calm yet authoritative voice leading his nation into yet another massive war, this time against a man who was, aside from all else, an excellent speaker.

As Albert ("Bertie" to his family), who becomes George VI, Colin Firth carries himself with elegance and gravitas — Albert was, after all, a man who had fought in the previous war. He looks like a commander. Then he opens his mouth. Listening to Firth here is like listening to a small rusty machine trying haplessly to rev up; it's a considerable technical feat, and Firth weaves subtle variations into it. The King's Speech is on one level a tale of English repression: Albert's frustration at his speech impediment, and his anger at having been mocked and dismissed all his life because of it, form a loop of rage that wraps tightly around his tongue. When he shouts, curses or sings — when he drops his inhibitions — his speech flows much better.

This he learns from Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), the speech therapist who agrees to take Albert on as a patient. Logue, an Australian, acts unimpressed by Albert's standing, perhaps because he knows his Shakespeare and knows the frailty of royalty. (Perhaps also because, like Albert, he saw ghastly things in the first World War.) The push-pull of this relationship recalls the dynamic between Nigel Hawthorne and Ian Holm in The Madness of King George; like that previous George, Albert must seem a king, not by becoming sane but by speaking clearly. And like Holm's physician, Logue must sidestep his role as a subject and be a verb, proactively striking at the root of Albert's problem.

As directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams) from a sleek David Seidler script, The King's Speech is sturdy entertainment in which, once again, we are asked to sympathize with suffering royalty. I think Madness of King George did it better, but this one — which benefits from a nicely judged supporting turn by Helena Bonham Carter as Albert's adoring wife Elizabeth — works well enough.

And when George VI steps up to make that big speech, declaring war on Germany, Hooper and Seidler have enough sense not to play it as an unqualified triumph. Among the king's listeners, we see, are young men, in and out of uniform, who will soon die, and mothers who will soon weep for them, and Lionel Logue, his expression torn between pride in his king and friend and despair at what must soon happen.

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originally posted: 01/24/11 15:13:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Telluride Film Festival For more in the 2010 Telluride Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Berlin International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/19/18 Suzanne Script, director, actors: all superb 5 stars
12/03/13 Jeff Wilder Great performances. But overly familiar. 3 stars
1/11/12 hurdygurdy man Rush - Superb! 4 stars
7/22/11 Annie G This was dull enough to be an honest portrayal, which isn’t to say I disliked it! 4 stars
6/07/11 mr.mike Very good , I still think Social Network was the better film. 4 stars
6/05/11 Piz Sub out the terrific actors for unknowns and you have a pretty stagnant, mediocre movie 4 stars
5/28/11 Shaun A Stunning performances. Totally worthy of its accolades. 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Oscar well deserved 5 stars
5/10/11 Dr.Lao Eccentric mentor who gets results cliche, not really original but very well done 4 stars
4/24/11 Simon Not particularly groundbreaking or ambitious, just a beautifully told tale of friendship 5 stars
4/19/11 Luisa Great performance from Colin Firth (Guy Pierce great actor but under used here) 4 stars
3/29/11 Bad Bunny Rush & Firth worth the price of admission...except it really is a Masterpiece Theater piece 4 stars
3/04/11 Barbara S Hey Rita, just saw CF smile...too ridiculous. CF don't smile. 5 stars
3/02/11 Monday Morning One of the most inspiring films I've ever seen. Excellent. 5 stars
2/23/11 R.W. Welch Polished production and Firth nails his role. My vote for the Oscar. 5 stars
2/16/11 Narda patriotic, handsome movie. Firth do greatly his job 3 stars
2/10/11 Deanna L subtle and engrossing, touching but not sappy 5 stars
2/10/11 Suzz film is good enough but Firth is great 4 stars
2/08/11 David Chiozza Wow, this movie is extremely powerful, and the performances are devastantantly good. 5 stars
2/01/11 Rita P Colin winning all awards, but curious, can he lower himself to smile for the people? 5 stars
1/29/11 r warburton 5 stars
1/27/11 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Colin will win the oscar, if only because he deserved it for last year's SINGLE MAN. 5 stars
1/22/11 Beverley M Sporck When you sit there watching a film and are so caught up in the pain that person is feeling. 5 stars
1/20/11 Martin The film was not that great. The Perforamances were amzing. But the film itself, ..3 1/2 4 stars
1/15/11 jeanne Another Oscar-worthy job, Colin - now, no more rom-coms, okay? ;D 5 stars
1/15/11 Carol Miles Many great ones-WTF, CF finally gives his fans one, if he actually has any fans. 4 stars
12/28/10 GEORGE B. FEIST Colin Firths best performance to date (of many great ones) well done movie 5 stars
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  26-Nov-2010 (R)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2011


  DVD: 19-Apr-2011

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