I was determined to watch The King’s Speech because I wanted to see the performance of one of my favorite actors, Geoffrey Rush. But it was the skills of a less known but equally talented actor that captivated me. His name is Colin Firth. The part of a stammering monarch was demanding to say the least. But Firth was flawless in his portrait.
The conflict is beautiful in its simplicity yet, in the story, frustrating in its implications. If an ordinary man has stuttering, he can still live a fine life without much upset. But that’s not true for the son of King George V (Michael Gambon). The film, based on the story of the Duke of York (Colin Firth), opens with the life-changing event that made the Prince seek help. The Prince was due to give the closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925.
But his stammering overcame him, and the fiasco led the Prince to a few doctors, who tried to rid his speech defects but to no avail. It was Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian-born speech therapist, with his controversial techniques and uncommon methodology who produced the most favorable results.
Helena Bonham Carter, who played the Price’s wife, was sublime. I always find it reassuring to see her in a non-Tim Burton picture; a reminder of the range of her talent. Actually, the entire cast was amazing. Guy Pearce played the Prince’s irresponsible brother. Michael Gambo was their father, King George V.
When I watched The Queen in 2006, I was infatuated with Helen Mirren, who, I thought, carried the entire film in the palm of her hand. She was exquisite and delightful to see. In The King’s Speech, Colin Firth doesn’t quite do the same. Perhaps his impairment diminishes empathy, I’m not sure.
But Geoffrey Rush makes up for it. His peculiar character, through his effective techniques and piercing demeanor, is able to earn respect from the king to be. In my opinion, their extraordinary friendship is the highlight of the film and definitely its most appealing feature.
The Academy Awards nominations were announced yesterday. The King’s Speech has received 12, although I doubt it will be the big winner of 2011. Firth and Rush each deserve an statuette. But it might be outperformed in all other categories, except perhaps Art Direction and Costume.