Saturday, January 1, 2011

THE KING'S SPEECH - A REVIEW

The King's Speech is a smartly written, beautifully photographed, impeccably acted, thoroughly engrossing movie.

Need more?

Did you enjoy The Queen? If you did, The King's Speech is a no-brainer. To be certain, the subject of The Queen is of recent memory while for most of us the details of the ascension of King George VI (Bertie) after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII (David) in order to be with American divorcee Wallis Simpson are somewhat less clear. Americans are even less likely to be aware of Bertie's speech impediment. Consider it a learning experience.

Colin Firth as Bertie; Geoffrey Rush as his unconventional speech therapist, Australian Lionel Logue; and Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie's wife, Queen Elizabeth - mother of the current Queen Elizabeth - each contribute in different ways.

Firth's portrayal is sensitive and complex, presenting us with an unassuming man who in the end had sufficient inner strength to not only overcome his disability but prove to be the stronger of the two brothers after having spent a life being considered the weaker, both within his family and in his own mind.

Rush, who can go over the top when given free rein, brings just the right blend of humor, self-confidence, and authority to his role. He demands to be treated as an equal and in the end proves his right to be.

Bonham Carter's role might be viewed as subsidiary, but as the woman who comes to be known as one of England's most influential Queen Mothers, her quiet determination to prepare Bertie to take his rightful place undergirds the entire narrative.

The script, the sets, the photography, all are equal to the task. And yes, if the portrayals of Simpson and Churchill border on caricature, so what? Their appearances are brief and their points are made.

If you can appreciate a movie that can be totally engrossing without blowing things up or gratuitously displaying genitalia, this is a movie that you must see.

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