Saturday, 22 January 2011

Review: The King's Speech

Tom Hooper has made what I like to call an immaculate film. The King's Speech follows the story of King George VI and his relationship with Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helped him during his rise to King. The premise is gloriously British, with focus on correct pronunciation, stiff upper lip suffering, humility and friendship in the face of adversity, and of course, the Royal Family, all attributes of a past-England. With text speak, multi-cultured society and a growing population ridding us of these old traditions: the very backbone of British history. Hooper honours these traits so very well, almost to the point of being over worthy, but never quite going too far. Instead, he shows us the polite, well-mannered England of yonder, with it's sharp corners and dark secrets. One thing the film can never be accused of is lack of grit, an accusation so easily targeted at ostensible dramas, particluarly British ones. Bertie is not Darcy.
Colin Firth delivers the performance of his career, and after his role in last year's A Single Man, it can comfortably be said that he is an actor who has developed before our eyes, maturing far beyond his typecasting in rom-coms and the like. Admittedly, his diversity may still be lacking compared with some others out there, but what he does, he does extremely well.
Joining Firth is Australian thesp, Geoffrey Rush, who as usual oozes charisma and completely absorbs the essence of Logue, his performance is certainly a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor. Logue juxtaposes Bertie's stiff British outlook with his eccentric behaviour and unorthodox techniques; he even causes a stir because he is lacking in recognised qualifications, hardly fitting to assist a King.
Helena Boham-Carter, Timothy Small and Derek Jacobi give strong supporting performances as can be expected, with Boham-Carter giving some first-class acting as Bertie's loving wife, as we see it is she who concentrates the most efforts in searching out doctors to cure her husband's stammer. For the more keen-eyed viewer, you'll also spot Simon's sarcastic younger brother from The Inbetweeners, and the young girl, Karen, from Outnumbered.
The King's Speech is a superb achievement for Hooper, beautifully shot and masterfully acted, this marks Hooper's well-established entrance into the big time after his well-received The Damned United. Let's hope he doesn't stop his TV works though; John Adams and Longford were both excellent.

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