LFF Review: The King's Speech
Review by Jack Foley
MUCH has been written and even dramatised about the abdication of King Edward from the British throne in 1936 but very little focuses on the man who succeded him.
Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech does just that, offering an absorbing and deeply rewarding account of Prince Albert, the second son of King George V, and his attempts to overcome a stammer in pursuit of his royal duties.
The film that ensues plays well to those who love a good costume drama and who are fascinated by that turbulent period of history. But it’s also an inspiring account of how one man overcame a disability with the unlikely help of another, as well as a moving tale of friendship and loyalty.
Hooper’s film follows the pivotal events in the years leading up to Albert’s keynote speech leading the country into war with Germany. In doing so, it takes in Edward’s abdication as well as (briefly) the decline of King George V.
But while careful attention is paid to historical accuracy, it is first and foremost the tale of two very different men. As such, it’s a fantastic showcase of the acting ability of both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, both of whom now look set to feature prominently in the forthcoming awards season.
Firth is quite simply flawless as Albert, bettering even the fine work he did in last year’s A Single Man and anyone who still thinks of him as a one trick pony really must think again.
His Albert is, by turns, tortured, anguished, determined, stubborn and afraid. Firth gives him charisma combined with fallibility and perfectly conveys the debilitating moments before each stammer and the slow building confidence of a man forced to accept an unwanted place in history.
But he’s matched by Rush’s Lionel Logue, the unorthodox Australian speech therapist who fought to win his trust and instill him with the confidence needed to carry out his duties, particularly in leading his country to war without projecting weakness.
The scenes between the two of them sparkle, buoyed by David Seidler’s astute but witty script, which is as much a triumph of the writer’s own battle against speech impediment as it is Albert’s (as the exact techniques adopted by Logue remain largely confidential).
There’s strong support, too, from Helena Bonham Carter as his supportive wife, Timothy Spall, note perfect as Winston Churchill, Guy Pearce as his brother Edward and Michael Gambon as King George V.
But it’s Firth and Rush who leave the biggest impression and who guarantee that Hooper’s excellent film will be one of the most inspiring and fondly rememberbered of the year.
Running time: 110mins
- Read our review
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- The King's Speech UK Premiere Photos