The King's Speech

Directed By: Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush

Whenever an actor portrays a British monarch well on the big screen, they've just earned themselves an Oscar nod at the least.  I don't know what it is about portraying these larger-than-life figures, but I do know that any actor taking on a role of this nature will bring their absolute best when the cameras are rolling.  Just look at examples such as Cate Blanchett's performance as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth or Helen Mirren's role as Elizabeth II in The Queen.  The most recent example is Colin Firth's magnificent portrayal of George VI in The King's Speech.

Prince Albert (Colin Firth), Duke of York, has a bit of a speech impediment.  He stammers whenever he makes any sort of public speech.  Luckily for him, he's the second son of King George V (Michael Gambon), so he doesn't have to take the crown and the lifetime of public speaking associated with it.  That burden belongs to his older brother David (Guy Pearce).  Despite this, his father believes that Albert will have to step up to the throne in his lifetime to confront the great issue of the era — the Third Reich led by Adolph Hitler.  Before he takes on this public challenge though, he must deal with a personal challenge--his stuttering.

Albert's wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) decides to help him with this stammering problem.  She refers him to Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist.  Lionel and Albert begin working to correct George's stuttering.  When George V passes away, Albert finds out that his father was right about him needing to step up as the king during these trying times.  David ascends the throne as Edward VIII and vacates it just as quickly to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Eve Best).  Albert, now King George VI, must deal with the mess left by his older brother and lead his nation through the turbulence of the era.  Lionel and Elizabeth are with him every step of the way to help him overcome his speech difficulties and be the leader his country needs.

Colin Firth really steps up his game for The King's Speech.  Mostly known for more romantic flicks such as Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Love Actually, he really makes a big turn in his career by portraying George VI. What really stands out is the nuance of his performance as the stuttering monarch.  The shame and the ongoing internal struggle he conveys simultaneously is quite masterful.  He perfectly captures the plight of those who suffer from any sort of speech impediment.

The supporting cast delivers quite impressive performances as well.  Helena Bonham Carter gives a strong portrayal of Albert's wife Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  She brings a certain presence and charm to her role that befits a queen.  Meanwhile, Geoffrey Rush does what he does best, endearing moviegoers with another great performance.  His character brings a delightful tone to the film.  You can't help but enjoy every moment he's on screen, especially when he's with Firth.  Rush's witty character makes The King's Speech a charming and heartwarming historical drama.  He makes the film more than just a portrait of a king at the brink of World War II.

The King’s Speech is fairly predictable, but I can't fault director Tom Hooper for that.  It's history.  Provided you've studied history in school (or read a Wikipedia entry or two for that matter), you should know the background story and have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the movie.  My only real issue with The King's Speech is that Hooper decided to cast Guy Pearce as Edward VIII.  I like Pearce as much as the next guy, but he looks much younger than Firth in the film.  That definitely needs to be the other way around.

The King's Speech is truly an outstanding motion picture.  It is undoubtedly one of the best films of 2010.  I wholeheartedly give this wonderful film a sober rating.  Don't miss out on this one!