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The King's Speech

A movie directed by Tom Hooper

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Fantastically well-acted and a fascinating story.

  • Jan 1, 2011
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I can enjoy fine movies with minimalist acting. Where the actors spend a lot of time saying nothing, but looking very serious, or hurt, or angry or whatever. The kind of the thing that lots of young American actors like to do these days. Where emotions are bottled up. This can be very effective.

But sometimes, you just want to have a good, old-fashioned wallow in the kind of meaty, no-holds barred acting that, frankly, the British do best. And the best, most satisfying example of that this year is THE KING'S SPEECH, a terrific, interesting, engrossing and surprisingly emotional film about a monarch who stutters.

In the years between the two great wars of the 20th Century, King George V ruled England and its colonies with a stern disposition and unshakeable self-confidence. His eldest son, Edward, is a dashing playboy type, but looks forward to his time on the throne. Younger son Albert ("Bertie") is shyer and more conservative...in large part because he has a rather pronounced stammer that years of consulting experts has done nothing to cure. He has a strong wife in Elizabeth, and dotes on his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. And he has no ambitions to be king.

His wife convinces him to start consulting with Speech Therapist Lionel Logue, a commoner with some highly uncomment techniques. Not only does he work on the mechanics of speech, but he believes that stammers also come from a psychological place as well. He's a sort of psychologist too. He works with the prince, insists that two men work on a first name basis, and through sheer force of his eccentric personality, begins to wear the reserved Albert down to the point where we learn much about his upbringing.

And then, as WWII nears, George V dies and Edward serves only briefly, because the scandal of his love affair with divorced American Wallace Simpson forces him from the throne...and George is horrified to find himself about to be crowned. And eventually, George will have to give perhaps the most important nationwide radio address anyone had ever given in England up to that point...a speech rallying his people to the cause of war. He can ill afford to stammer his way through a speech that needs to inspire confidence and patriotism.

It's a fascinating story, utterly engrossing. But it's the uniformly great acting that elevates this to such a high level. Small but effective parts are handled by folks such as Michael Gambon (King George V...excellent), Derek Jacobi as the archbishop, Guy Pearce as King Edward (he's quite good) and Jennifer Ehle in a small but delightful role as Logue's wife. Helena Bonham Carter is more restrained than usual, but also very effective as the Queen. She clearly dotes on her husband, which makes her very sympathetic, yet she also shows that the trappings and conventions of royalty suit her. The two appear to be that seeming rarity, a royal couple that are actually happy with each other. But all this great acting is just icing on the cake for the pure movie-going joy of watching Colin Firth (as King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush (as the uncommon commoner) go toe-to-toe. Both actors are at their finest.

Rush can incline towards the hammy (as in the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN movies) but when the script matches his natural characteristics (such as the unappreciated QUILLS)...he's just a joy to watch. His timing is exquisite and his commitment to his work is amazing. And Firth, though a more "restrained" actor, chews into his role with understated ferocity (this seems to make no sense...but see the film and you'll understand). He makes his Bertie so sympathetic...but rather than just playing a shy stammerer, we see his integrity, his wit, his pain and his explosive temper. His struggle against the casual attitude Logue takes with him is so much fun to watch, as are the great moments these two have together when they discover how well the King speaks when he is cursing. The two develop an odd but deeply affecting friendship. I don't know if the film presents history accurately...but it sure presents history as it would be nice to believe it happened. Both actors should be slam dunks for Oscar nominations...and Firth will be hard to beat. It may be his best "upper class British" performance to date.

The film is a bit manipulative. The climactic moments being heavily punctuated with Beethoven seems a bit heavy handed. Some of the dialogue is just TOO good to be believed. But the two actors and their co-stars plow right through any weaknesses or pandering to the audience. A measure of the success of the film...my 23 year old son and 18 year old daughter loved it. For a film so far out of my son's comfort zone to grab him to the extent it did says a lot. This is a film worth seeking out and seeing immediately.

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More The King's Speech reviews
review by . January 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ Stars: Everyone Has The Right To Be Heard!
Stories about friendship and courage. They are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser whose stories have been told in various different ways. It is just something that people need to be told from time to time that I doubt anyone would grow tired of it. Well, director Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People’s choice award and it tells about the true story of a King George VI who overcame something very significant in the face of a …
review by . April 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I was not familar with the story of George VI until I saw this amazing film. Apparently George had a terrible stuttering problem until one day his wife took him to the home of a commoner in the basement floors of a building. At first George is reluctant to give the man a chance. His father and just about everyone else had sent him to "experts' with no success. One such "expert" wanted him to smoke to "sooth the lungs" and talk with marbles in his mouth. None of these things worked.    George …
review by . May 02, 2011
"I've been terribly busy."   "Doing what?"   "Kinging."      The King's Speech, a man at battle with himself a very unlikable man at that. Perhaps sympathy for one of the luckiest men to walk our mortal Earth is at times absent, yet The King's Speech manages to humanise one of closest things to a living God. Yes, you either love, or hate the reigning powers of the British Royals, but how satisfying it is to see one …
review by . January 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is a pivotal moment in the King's Speech that just speaks volumes about what the movie is about and what it means.  It's a scene where Bertie (also known as a King George VI)I--a man with a stammering problem--is standing there with Lionel, his speech therapist, and Lionel puts a headset on him and plays music and instructs Bertie to read a passage out of Hamlet.  While the music is playing you can't hear him, he can't even hear himself.  Lionel records it for …
review by . January 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A King's birthright
It was a little slow at the beginning but the movie picks up lots of momentum towards the end. The true story of a royalty's speech impediment. Had he been just another prince, then it's no big deal. But the moment that his brother abdicated the throne and he was made king, it's a major problem!      What made this movie success is not so much the story nor is it the overcoming of a handicap. True, they are part of what make a story. However, I believe it is the acting …
review by . January 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Don't miss this movie just because its not gotten a wide release.  Here in Raleigh, NC, it isn't playing at any of the multi-screen multiplexes, which actually gives you a great excuse to see a movie in an old-fashioned single-screen movie house like the Rialto in Raleigh (an excellent movie-going experience in itself).      And what a movie this is.  It is certain to get nominations for best movie, actor, and supporting actor.  While I think the movie …
review by . December 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The British monarchy tale "The King's Speech" led Golden Globe contenders Tuesday with seven nominations, including best drama and acting honours for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.Other best-drama nominees were the psychosexual dance thriller "Black Swan," the boxing saga "The Fighter," the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception" and the Facebook chronicle "The Social Network." Nominees in the Globes' other best-picture category, …
review by . February 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     There are few stories without an enemy; and few films without a flaw. Yes, history has proved me somewhat wrong and there are indeed MANY great, flawless films, but seldom do they come along each weekend. So when they do come along, there is reason to celebrate. "The King's Speech" is an absolutely fantastic portrait of the Duke of York, who was King George V's son. If there is a villain in this very story, it is the flaws of the Duke/Albert. He is to become …
review by . January 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Speech impediments are a horrible thing to deal with, I’d imagine. And I’d imagine they are far, far worse if you’re the titular leader of 1/4 of the world. That’s the situation faced by King George VI in The King’s Speech. George VI (Colin Firth), called “Bertie” through most of the film, was never meant to be king. His brother, David, was the one who was meant to be king, but no one, including his father, seemed to feel he was up to the …
review by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
“The King’s Speech” is the one of the few films I know of to humanize the embarrassment of stuttering. It tells the story of Prince Albert, Duke of York, who, following the death of his father and the resignation of his older brother, became King George VI and had the unenviable task of leading England and its many colonies into World War II; although he had a voice and had plenty to say, his debilitating stammer made it virtually impossible to actually say it. Imagine what that …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


The King's Speech is a British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper from a script by David Seidler. The movie won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award.

The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped George VI overcome a stammer. Filming commenced in the United Kingdom in November 2009. The film is set for a limited release in the United States on 26 November 2010

The British monarchy tale "The King's Speech" led Golden Globe contenders Tuesday with seven nominations, including best drama and acting honours for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.Other best-drama nominees were the psychosexual dance thriller "Black Swan," the boxing saga "The Fighter," the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception" and the Facebook chronicle "The Social Network."
Nominees in the Globes' other best-picture category, for musical or comedy, are the Lewis Carroll fantasy "Alice in Wonderland," the song-and-dance extravaganza "Burlesque," the lesbian-family tale "The Kids Are All Right," the action tale "Red" and the romantic thriller "The Tourist."
"The Social Network" and "The Fighter" tied for second with six nominations each. Among nominations for ...

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Director: Tom Hooper
Genre: Drama, History
Release Date: 24 December 2010 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Seidler
DVD Release Date: April 19, 2011
Runtime: 118 min
Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
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Best Picture Nominees 2011


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