Saturday, February 19, 2011

THE KING'S SPEECH

Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter, Geoffrey Rush
Guy Pierce, Derek Jacobi


"It takes leadership to confront a nation's fear.
It takes friendship to conquer your own."



The film begins with Albert, the Duke of York (Colin Firth) who desperately struggles to deliver a speech at Wembley Stadium during the 1924 Empire exhibition. His stammering causes much embarrassment both for the Duke as well as his captive audience who can't bear to look at him.

After being subjected to such humiliation, Bertie (his nickname) submits to be treated by 'an expert' who not only aggravates the situation but further humiliates the already very frustrated Duke with his speech impediment.

So his ever supportive wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) arranges for him to see Lionel Logue, an unorthodox speech therapist. Lionel (Geoffrey Rush) does not know Elizabeth's true identity at first. And even after she reveals to him who she really is and who his patient will be, Lionel insists upon having Albert come to see him in person at his little crummy office.

The working relationship between Bertie and Lionel gets off to a bumpy start. As neither of them are willing to compromise what they believe in and stand steadfast in their stubborn ways. But it turns into an unlikely lifelong friendship. The film portrays how the class barriers are broken down in a time where solidarity was key with such uncertain times ahead.

Times were indeed volatile. Upon the death of King George V, the Duke of Windsor Edward (Guy Pierce) assumes the throne with much reluctance. Eventually, he abdicates his reign and steps down to be with the woman he loves, the twice divorced Mrs Wallis Simpson. So the next in line is poor Bertie. The second son of King George V, he has led a somewhat secluded life with his wife and two daughters. Now faced with ruling a vast empire and a country on the brink of war, his remarkable relationship with Lionel Logue in my opinion definitely saved the day for the monarchy.

This movie about a unique friendship was a delight to watch. It tore down the rigid walls that tend to envelop the monarchy and presented us with a very concrete and vivid look into ordinary human beings who just happen to live extraordinary complex lives as members of the royalty.

The movie was nicely edited and well executed. Its director was able to draw out every nuance and thought process from the characters, especially Firth who has the biggest challenge of conveying the inner turmoil of a man who could not verbally express what he wished. And he did a fantastic job that you can't help but cheer him on as he made great progress and was able to conquer his limitations.

An equally great actor, Geoffrey Rush as eccentric and unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue gave a superb performance. There is an equally wonderful and immensely witty performance from Helena Bonham Carter, too, as the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth I, in her heyday. Even though her role was rather short. I did however think that Guy Pierce was too young to be cast as Prince Edward but could clearly see his resemblance to the embattled Duke of Windsor.

This is certainly a great movie and truly deserves all the accolades it got and continues to receive from critics and moviegoers everywhere.

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