Business rating: 2
Star cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter.
Plot: In pre-World War II Britain, The Duke of York is poised to become the King since his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicates the throne. But the Duke can’t make public broadcasts as he stammers. He hires a doctor to help him with the stammer.
What’s Good: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush’s performances; the film’s entertaining and inspiring script.
What’s Bad: Hardly anything!
Verdict: The King’s Speech will do better than most Hollywood releases in India due to the Oscar buzz and on the strength of its story.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not?: Don’t miss it.
Bedlam Productions’ The King’s Speech is a drama based on the true story of King George VI.
The film follows the story of the royal monarch’s quest to find his voice. Duke of York a.k.a. Bertie (Colin Firth) is troubled because he stammers and can’t make speeches, something that is a part of his duty as a British royal. He and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), have seen many doctors to help solve the stammering problem but to no avail. Finally, Elizabeth finds a maverick speech therapist in Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Lionel refuses to visit the Duke, saying that the Duke must himself come to Lionel’s chambers for consultation. Elizabeth manages to arrange a session but the Duke is angry when Lionel asks him personal questions. The Duke refuses to see Lionel further.
However, when the Duke realises that he had actually read a few lines from a book, without stammering, when Lionel had plugged music in his (the Duke’s) ears, he understands that Lionel means business. He goes back to Lionel and then begin a series of muscular exercises. The Duke’s confidence grows bit by bit and he is able to speak slightly better. He even shares intimate details of his childhood, and the trauma he had suffered as he stammered, with Lionel.
Soon, the King of Britain passes away and the Duke’s brother, Edward (Guy Pearce), takes the throne. But when Edward insists on marrying a divorced woman, something that a King cannot do, he abdicates the throne. Now, the Duke is going to be anointed as the king. In the meantime, Hitler’s aggressive tactics make war imminent. In this difficult time, the Duke loses his cool and shouts at Lionel during one of their sessions, when the latter asks him personal questions. The Duke faces two major challenges: his coronation and a public broadcast declaring the war. How does he find the voice to keep his people in Britain and the world over together in the time of war? Do he and Lionel reconcile? The rest of the film and the climax answer these questions.
Story and screenplay – The King’s Speech Review
David Seidler’s screenplay is very good. The film tells in an interesting manner, a very heartfelt story of a disabled royal and his efforts to overcome the disability. The viewers will relate to the Duke’s feeling of helplessness and they will feel inspired by his momentous struggle. The relationship between the protagonist (Firth) and his speech therapist (Rush) is the highlight of the film. The dialogues are peppered with wry humour and irony. As a bonus, the depiction of the inner workings of the British royal family in the bygone era is real and interesting. On the whole, the story is something that will appeal to all sections of the English-speaking Indian audience.
Star Performances – The King’s Speech Review
Colin Firth, who has won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance, is simply marvellous. He portrays the stammering and nervous king-to-be with élan. Geoffrey Rush also stands his own as the eccentric therapist. Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Calum Gittins (as Laurie Logue), Michael Gambon (as King George V), Derek Jacobi (as Archbishop Cosmo Lang) and Timothy Spall (as Winston Churchill) provide able support.
Direction and Editing – The King’s Speech Review
Tom Hooper’s direction is very good. He weaves an interesting tale around the foibles and struggles of the Duke, and pays attention to every small detail. The film progresses at a good pace and although the end is predictable, his process of how we get there is remarkable. The climax of the film is something to watch out for. Alexandre Desplat’s background score is very good. Danny Cohen’s cinematography is appropriate. Technically, the film is very good. Tariq Anwar’s editing is perfect.
The Last Word
All in all, The King’s Speech is a worthy product. It will do fair business at the Indian box-office due to the string of Oscar awards it has amassed.