10 feb. 2011

My Review: The King`s Speech (9/10)

¨If I am King, where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them.¨

Being a good public speaker is a necessity for the King of England, because he represents the voice of his nation. If that nation is going through a dark period in time (declaring War on Nazi Germany for example), then the need to be a strong public speaker is even greater. Unfortunately for King George VI that is not the case, since he is known as King George the stammer. Bertie (the nickname his family has given him) has suffered from a severe stammering problem for as long as he can remember. He has tried every means necessary to get over his problem, but they`ve all failed and there is nothing he can do about it. The King`s Speech is the favorite film to take home the Oscar for Best Picture with 12 nominations. Tom Hooper did an excellent job with the direction of this historical drama, which also manages to produce several laughs throughout the film thanks to a witty script written by David Seidler and great performances from Colin Firth (frontrunner to take home the Oscar for Best leading Actor), Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. David Seidler actually suffered from stammering as a kid and clearly remembered the speech the King gave while declaring War against Germany during World War II. His experience with the problem and memory of the historical facts made him the ideal person to write the script for The King`s Speech, since he was mostly only known for writing movies made for television. This film will probably open many new doors for him as a writer because the script was beautifully written and the Oscar nomination was well deserved.

Colin Firth gives one of the best performances of the year in his role as King George VI. The film is based on true events beginning in 1925 when his character has to give a public speech in Wembley Stadium. George is only a Duke and has to give the speech as a request given to him by his father King George V (Michael Gambon, known for his role as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise). His stammering problem gets even worse as every eye in the stadium is on him and the speech is a complete disaster. It’s a good thing Bertie won`t be King because that responsibility should fall on his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce). Years pass by and Bertie can`t find a way to get over his speaking problem. Every doctor that treats him fails, and his bad temper doesn`t help him any either. His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) doesn`t give up on him however and finds a speech therapist who claims to be able to fix her husband`s problem. Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is a pretty unorthodox doctor, but he forms a strong bond with Bertie, and their unlikely friendship becomes one of the main attractions of the film. Their personalities clash several times, but their relationship grows through time. King George V falls ill and passes away, so Edward becomes King of the nation. Unfortunately for George, Edward is in love with a two time divorcé, Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), and is willing to resign the crown of England just to marry her. The King of England is the head of the Church and therefore it is impossible for him to marry a divorced woman. Edward resigns for love, and the responsibility of the nation falls entirely on King George VI. The timing couldn`t have been worse because England is declaring War on Germany and the nation is waiting for the King`s speech.

It is impossible to remain emotionally detached from the film due to the strong performances from the ensemble cast. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are just phenomenal in this movie, and the pairing of the two make this movie even stronger. When the movie reaches its climatic scene at the end and we are waiting to hear the King`s speech, it’s just impossible not to feel nervous for Bertie. We want him to succeed after everything that he has gone through. Firth and Rush really made us feel sympathy for their characters and that is what great actors do. As for the director Tom Hooper all I can say is that he was totally in control of his craft and made a strong film. However I still don`t consider this his best film. Last year he directed The Damned United, and in my opinion that is a far superior movie which starred Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall as two football coaches. With these two great films in two years, I will keep Tom Hooper under my radar for his upcoming movies. He has proven twice now that he can make powerful pictures. The relationship between Bertie and Lionel isn`t the only strong point of the film; Bertie`s relationship with his brother Edward is also a key point of the film. Edward is willing to resign the crown for love, but at the same time he is running away from the responsibility of governing a nation in need and leaving that enormous task on George, who happens to be handicapped himself. Well I guess it isn`t Edward`s fault that they don`t let him marry the person he loves, and for that I understand him, and in a way I think George does too. The movie has several things going for it and I highly recommend it. If The King`s Speech ends up winning Best Picture, it will be the second time in consecutive years that Guy Pearce is in a movie that takes home the top prize (he was in The Hurt Locker as well). 

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