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This is a biopic about how King George VI, the father of Queen
Elizabeth II, overcame his stuttering problem. Widely considered by all
but his father unfit to be king, George is reluctantly thrust unto the
throne and into the spotlight after his brother is forced to abdicate.
Overshadowed on the global stage by powerful orators like Adolph Hitler
and Benito Mussolini, the King relies on the help of a little-known
Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue to find his voice and
courageously lead his people into the most devastating war humanity has
This is a powerful, hilarious and deeply moving story, told against the backdrop of a critical juncture in modern history, of the emergence of a deep friendship out of a professional relationship between two men who would otherwise never have socially interacted. The screenplay, written by David Seidler (who also wrote Tucker: The Man and his Dream), is excellent. The dry British wit is hilarious. I was literally slapping my knee during some of the scenes. Tom Hooper (Elizabeth I) does a superb job directing this movie. The buildup to the climactic finale is skillfully executed and prompted the audience to erupt into spontaneous applause. (Apparently, this also happened at the Roy Thomson Hall premiere.) Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) does a fantastic job as Lionel Logue and Colin Firth (A Single Man) is excellent as King George VI.
I saw the second public screening of this movie at the Ryerson Theater during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Tom Hooper was present to introduce the movie. He was joined by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush after the movie ended for a brief Q&A.
It turns out that David Seidler also had a stuttering problem as a child and drew inspiration from the king's struggle. Early in his career he wanted to write a screenplay about it. He dutifully asked the Queen Mother for permission. She agreed but told him "not in my lifetime". Little did he know she would live to be 101 and he would have to wait another 30 years.
Another interesting tidbit we learned was that near the end of the shoot, the crew finally located one of Lionel Logue's grandsons, who just so happened to live about 10 minutes away from the director. They got access to Lionel's diaries and correspondence and managed to incorporate some of it into the script.
This movie is an unqualified must see.
I think I must have seen a different film from the previous two
reviewers at Leeds on Friday. It is now two days ago and I am still
feeling overwhelmed by what I saw. It is a very touching, and quite
inspiring story about a man, psychologically scarred, and trapped in a
situation from which he could have no escape and facing it with immense
courage. It so happens that he was royal, and that was a large part of
his problem- but the film isn't so much about royalty as a human story.
The film conveyed very powerfully in the opening scene, the enormity of
what was required of him. As the film develops, the complexities of the
character are revealed. The acting is superb, especially from the three
principals, and the development of the troubled and sparky relationship
at the heart of the film is a joy to watch. The film is very funny and
the characters have warmth and humanity. The film is well paced, and
carries you along to the emotional climax, so that, even though I knew
the story, it had me holding my breath. If you don't need lots of
action or special effects in your film, and enjoy seeing top-notch
actors at the very peak of their craft, this will be for you. You might
also, as I did, gain a bit more insight into the human drama behind a
significant, but relatively unexplored period of British history.
If CF and GR both win Oscars they will be more than worthy winners and if they don't then "best" has no meaning.
One further thought- anyone who thinks that this film is unsuitable for teenage viewers needs to have a long hard look at their priorities. It could prove inspirational to anyone with communication difficulties.
There were a lot of elderly folks in the theatre when I saw The King's
Speech. It occurred to me that some of them may have been alive when
George VI gave the actual speech to the British Nation which had just
declared war with Hitler.
The King's Speech is a feel good movie, but a very adult one, and while it tells a good story, well scripted, absorbing and believable (except for an odd line or two), Tom Hooper's film is far more driven by character than by plot.
You may need to see it to believe it but, Colin Firth has no obvious competition for the best actor awards which are coming his way. He is absorbed in the role of the stammering king who is timid, low in self-confidence, and frustrated but perfectly warm-hearted. The only time he doesn't stammer is oddly enough when he curses. This is something which his new speech therapist suggests he use as a practise tool in the one scene which earned the film an R rating. The King's Speech is arguably a proud moment for Geoffrey Rush as well. This is him at his best, and he and Firth together almost make the movie. Their exchange of dialogue is flawless.
The King's Speech boasts an exceptional British cast, which includes Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi and Guy Pearce, all of whom help contribute to the picture with the smallest amount of screen time.
The King's Speech says a mouthful, and it warms the heart without question. There is also no question is arguing that it is among the very best of the year.
No spoilers here. I would like to let everyone know that this is an excellent film. I enjoyed it this week at the Mill Valley Film Festival in Marin County, CA. Given the outstanding cast and director, and my fascination with historical figures, I had high hopes for this film, though mixed with a certain resignation that I might be disappointed. There was no way I could have imagined how wonderful "The King's Speech" would be. There was abundant humor without the film ever becoming a comedy, drama without dreariness, and many deeply moving moments. I can't praise this film enough. It boosted my appreciation of the human capacity to become our best selves, and rise to meet even the most daunting challenges.
I could write for hours about this film. I only just heard about it
last night at a New Year's Eve party. Saw it today. To use the
vernacular, OMG. Director Tom Hooper has a masterpiece on his hands.
Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, and Timothy Spall as
Winston Churchill, all turn in excellent performances. Not to forget
Guy Pearce as King Edward who abdicated his throne for an American
divorcée. David Seidler's script is brilliant. The story is laid out
cleverly. The pace and rhythm are PERFECT.
I think this is one of the best films ever made. It will tear at your guts. And that is where Collin Firth comes in. Mr. Firth gives one of the most poignant and affective performances ever by a male movie star. Where, inside himself, an actor goes for a performance like this, is beyond my comprehension.
In the movie, "A Single Man", Colin Firth served notice that he was an actor of depth and subtlety, the surface of which he had only just begun to scratch. Now, he's more than scratched that surface. He's gouged a chasm through it. He plays the tormented, soon to be King of England, George VI, and does so in a way that very early in the movie buries his hooks in you and doesn't let go. I can not ever recall, while watching a film, having to choke back tears for over an hour and a half. The suffering portrayed by Firth as George VI is subtle at times. In your face at others. But painfully present always. When Firth bellows, "I am a King" I nearly lost it in a very quiet, and stunned, theater. If you've already seen this film you know what this refers to.
As an American I find the concept of a monarchy bewildering. Why is one person more privileged than another just because of the womb he or she sprang from? That being said, I do find the stories of those trapped in this anachronistic time warp fascinating at times. This would be one of those times. This film is the intersection of great personal pain, international upheaval, and a family that is ceremoniously dysfunctional to it's core.
Above this chaos, confusion, and unrest, rises a weak shell of a man to greatness. Colin Firth is the vessel for that transformation and if he doesn't win an Oscar for this performance it will tarnish the Academy forever in my humble opinion. This is the kind of performance, and film overall, that you leave thinking to yourself that you've just seen the greatest movie ever. Maybe later you'll see another brilliant film and think that "this one" is the best ever, but for now "The King's Speech" has no equal.
I rarely rate a movie a "10" but in this case, it is well deserved.
Truly, there is no way to improve upon the achievement that this film
represents, whether in casting, direction, writing, artistic value, you
The story gives us a fascinating look into the struggles faced by George VI on his way to becoming king of England. The story line is all about his stuttering, but underneath all that are suppressed memories from childhood, growing up in the shadow of an elder brother, perpetual negative reinforcement from a domineering father, etc. It's a psychoanalytical look at a well-known royal family, and while I can't vouch for its absolute veracity, it gives a rare glimpse into the lives of people we wouldn't otherwise observe at this level of intimacy (much like "Queen" did a few years ago).
The contrast between George and Edward VIII is most fruitful. It's the clash between duty and hedonism, fulfilling one's personal quest for happiness vs. overcoming one's worst fears on behalf of your people and country. Edward is typically romanticized and lionized, but here we see him as more of a spoiled, selfish lout.
But the heart of the movie is the relationship between George and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who is helping him overcome his speech problems. Both actors are at the absolute top of their form. Firth is brilliant as the aloof, initially reluctant and distrustful monarch, while Rush shows the same wink-of-the-eye humor and irony that he did as Barbossa, relishing the sheer inequality of their positions yet knowing the extent to which George is dependent on him. Ultimately a true friendship develops between the men, and since they are both such endearing characters, it's a joy to watch.
I should add that Helena Bonham-Carter is also spot-on as the haughty yet practical queen consort. Other more minor roles are effectively played (e.g., Winston Churchill, George V). The entire movie is a perfect blend of history, personal and familial drama, with broader themes of perseverance and overcoming adversity which give it a timeless application.
Lastly, in this movie's case, the "R" rating is for "Ridiculous." The only potentially offensive material is some over-the-top language (including the F-word) which plays a part in one scene, and is clearly used for comic purpose and with great effect. I unhesitatingly took my 13 year old daughter and (depending on the child) might be okay for even younger ones. Don't let that stop you from seeing this gem.
You heard it from me: Not even James Franco with his boffo performance
in 127 Hours can beat Colin Firth for the Oscar in King's Speech, a
docudrama about the Duke of York (Firth) becoming King George VI while
overcoming a crushing stutter. Not only does the actor get pitch
perfect the stutter, but he also invests a kindness, courage, and
vulnerability in the character that work in harmony to create an
unforgettable George in an exquisite period peace.
Not to forget how generously Geoffrey Rush underplays Lionel, the speech therapist who is instrumental in making the king a speaker and a friend. That low-key acting allows Firth the room to expand his king's personality without interference from an Oscar-winning co-star. This is history as I like to learn ithonest and engaging with palaces and minor characters well-appointed and underplayed themselves as part of a mosaic of challenges facing a handicapped king and a nation on the brink of WWII. The pace is close to languid, better to allow us to settle in for the painful transformation of a man unused to public speaking but used to family mocking his disability.
George's bravery is the film's heartbeat, not flamboyant courage, mind you, but rather the kind that wakes us up to the character as complex and lovable. But valor is not his exclusively, Guy Pearce's Edward, who abdicates for his love, Wallace Simpson, can be seen as a courageous man giving up a crown for love or a fool falling for a twice-divorced socialite.
Such an ambivalence is fitting for a film that gently introduces you to a period in British history when alliances are not clear and allegiances dangerous. One thing is patently clear, howeverthis is going to be on most critics' best film of the year list with a sure Oscar winner for its star. If Firth missed the brass ring last year in A Single Man, he'll grab it this year in King's Speech.
I saw this movie at Ryerson Theater during the Toronto International Film Festival among many other movie's this one really acquired my attention , wonder if it was for Colin Firth or Tom Hooper's writing. This is a moving tale about a king's obligation and deep friendship toward the nation he loved. The screenplay by David Seidler is genuine and clever... Colin Firth as the king is utterly dazzling and doesn't stop to amaze us movie by movie , like last year's A Single Man his performance has good chance to end at the Oscar race this year. Geoffrey Rush had one of the movie's well written role as the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue , his acting is splendid! Tom Hooper did an remarkable work , every detail of the movie is memorable On the whole this movie is a bright , smart and impressive picture.
The title of the film wouldn't necessarily have caught my eye, but am I glad I went to see this film, courtesy of an advance screening. It was bound to be good with Colin Firth playing the Duke of York who went on to become George VI, and he didn't let the audience down. Let's not forget also the other main characters, Lionel Logue played by Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter as the Duchess of York, Michael Gambon as George V and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill - all absolutely perfect for their respective roles. Whilst the dates in the film might not have been completely accurate, the film tells the story perfectly, sometimes humorously and and certainly sensitively, and I would like to think in such a way that doesn't cause any embarrassment to any surviving members of our Royal Family or indeed people who suffer from what must be a very difficult condition to live with. Certainly a film I would recommend to my friends.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A longtime Colin Firth fan, I saw this wonderful film twice at the
Toronto Film Festival.
The film opens with Bertie, Duke of York (Firth), the younger son of King George V, making a speech and becoming embarrassingly tongue-tied. Hearing the echo of his words in the outdoor stadium is enough to thwart his efforts. He looks desperately unhappy as the audience watches, some with expressions ranging from sympathy to impatience - clearly this has happened before.
Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), is an Australian speech therapist known for unorthodox methods. The moment we see his home, its eclectic decor tells us he is an unusual character. Logue has a happy and active family. He and his wife (Jennifer Ehle)have 3 sons, ranging in age from early adolescence to late teens. Evidence of the boys' activities is seen around the somewhat messy house - schoolbooks, model planes, etc.
Into this home comes the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter), clearly out of her element. Presenting herself as "Mrs. Johnson," she tells Logue her husband stutters and is called upon to speak in public in his line of work. Logue replies that perhaps he should find a new job! She says that would be impossible, to which Logue inquires if he is an indentured servant. "Yes, sort of," she replies. After she reveals his true identify, Logue only agrees to take him on as a patient if the therapy is conducted in his own office (no house calls, even for royalty) and tells her it is "my castle, my rules."
A reluctant Bertie is coaxed into a first appointment, which ends badly. Logue records him reading the "to be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet while wearing headphones blasting Beethoven so that he can't hear himself speaking. Bertie has little patience for these "tricks" and ultimately rips off the headphones and storms out, but not before Logue presents him with the recording as a "souvenir." Some time later, Bertie plays the recording, in which he perfectly enunciates the Shakespearean passage , as Elizabeth, unseen, stands in the doorway listening.
So back to Logue he goes.
Their sessions are filled with pathos and humor. An unlikely friendship begins between two men from vastly different worlds - Logue insists on equality, calling the duke "Bertie." Logue knows that in most cases, stammering results from traumatic childhood experiences, although Bertie scoffs at this assertion. "I was always like this," he insists, Logue replying that no infant begins talking in a stammer. Gradually, his harsh treatment as a child - what we would consider child abuse today - is revealed, sometimes in song at Logue's insistence, when it is too painful to relate in speech. This breakthrough is one of the most powerful scenes in the film, and made me cry both times I saw it. At one point, the two men have a nasty argument and a disruption of their relationship. Bertie makes some cruel comments, mocking Logue's background and questioning his motivation. You can clearly see the hurt on Logue's face as Bertie walks away.
We all know what is going on in the background: the abdication crisis. Edward VI (David) and Wallis Simpson are unsympathetically portrayed. In one scene, David mockingly mimics Bertie's stammer, accusing him of wanting to steal his throne. In truth, Bertie dreads becoming King, breaking down in tears when he realizes his fear is about to become reality. When GeorgeV dies, making David the King, David abdicates when not allowed to marry the twice-divorced Wallis.
Bertie rekindles his relationship with Logue, trying to apologize without saying the words. Logue understands that royalty does not apologize, and begins readying Bertie to speak at the coronation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury does not approve of Logue's influence on the King, and questions his credentials. In a pivotal scene at a Westminster Abbey "rehearsal," the King supports Logue, who admits he is not a doctor and does not have impressive credentials, but never misrepresented himself to clients. After the Archbishop leaves, an amusing "rehearsal" scene takes place at the Abbey.
The film takes a serious turn as Hitler comes into power. Bertie, Elizabeth and their daughters (Margaret and Elizabeth, the current queen) watch a coronation newsreel, followed by footage of Hitler inciting the German people. Bertie's comment? "I don't know what he is saying, but he says it well," envying Hitler's oratory power.
Bertie is an affectionate, hands-on father, in contrast to his own childhood when he and his brother were brought to their parents for a "daily viewing." After he becomes king, the princesses hesitate, then curtsy, upon seeing him. Bertie's face changes as he realizes how completely his life will change, but immediately gathers them into his arms.
As WWII approaches, preparation begins for "The King's Speech" to the nation. The end of the film is brilliant as Bertie speaks live on radio, with Logue there to coach him. We see shots of his subjects - soldiers, people in pubs, his mother, even David and Wallis - listening to the stirring speech. It is a resounding success, but realistically portrayed, as Bertie hesitates several times, following Logue's non-verbal cues to get through it. Afterwards, Logue tells him "you still stammered on the W's" to which Bertie replies, "I had to throw in a few of those so they 'd know it was me." Director Tom Hooper revealed at the Q&A, that that response was taken from the king's own diary.
The film ends with the royal family on the balcony, waving to their subjects as Logue watches, having, for the first time, addressed Bertie as "Your Majesty." It is noted on screen that Bertie and Lionel remained friends for the rest of their lives and that Lionel was awarded a CVO for "personal service to the sovereign." I highly recommend this absorbing drama with masterful characterizations by its two principal actors.
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