THE KING'S SPEECH Review

When it comes to films such as "The King's Speech" it is hard to ignore the fact that these are the types of films the Oscar voters will look at. It brings a completely different kind of aspect to the viewing role if you have any interest in film or the awards shows. And while I enjoyed this film very much, I wouldn't put it at the top of my favorites. While it is a beautifully made film, it isn't the most beautiful film I've seen in recent memory.

What I am trying to say is that there is no doubt the two lead actors here, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, will garner Oscar noms and at least one of them will probably win. Deservedly so, but what is there of this film after all the awards talk is wiped away? After we take away the pre-conceived thoughts the rave reviews have planted in your head and simply go into this with a clear mind. What would you think had you heard nothing of this film prior? That is what I went in trying to answer and I am happy to say that even without the positive hype I still found myself loving much of this film. It is a movie of moments, both touching and humorous. It opens up a fascinating world and while it is clearly a slower paced, artistic movie, it is never not entertaining and in that was where the victory was won.

In 1936 Firth's Bertie must take over the role of king after his father dies and his brother abdicates the throne. It is all completely true and completely fascinating. The catch here is that Bertie has battled with a stutter most of his life and when it comes to public speaking he is overcome and ultimately defeated by it every time. Enter Lionel Logue (Rush) the unorthodox speech coach that will overcome the King's handicap and lead him to a victory during the point in his life when he needs it most.

The acting here is fantastic. As Bertie Firth is nothing less than brilliant, truly, he inherits the character and leads the movie with a fearless quality that makes us wonder how he will cope with the predictable structure of the film. Though we know how everything will play out, it is the interaction between Firth and the wonderfully awkward Rush that make this film feel special. It is beautifully designed and shot. Its angles possess an in-your-face feeling. Putting you right behind the microphone or right in front of the audience that seem to be towering over you. It is almost nauseating at points and we see why Bertie is as nervous as he is. The style sometimes disrupts the uptight nature of the films subject but it does nothing short of aiding the storytelling.

As Lionel, Rush is not the high brow academic he portrays himself to be in the presence of his patients. He is simply a struggling actor who finds he has a talent for aiding those with speech impediments. Thus meaning his character isn't the usual quirky oddball, but he is a kind of deceiver, but in the terms least harsh of meanings. Lionel does what he does because he truly means to help his patients. As the time and lessons continue between he and the king, they naturally become good friends who by the end are much more than student and teacher. We see it coming, but this is the finest example of a buddy film ever made. And as exuberant as Rush is in his role, it is good to see such amazing support by such amazing and invested actors like Helena Bonham Carter's Elizabeth, who is always there for her husband, always supportive, always striving to help. Bonham Carter makes a turn here for the best, creating a calm and natural role from an actress that is known for her eccentric characters. Guy Pearce shows up shortly as the slimy King Edward VIII and Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon portray more famous historical figures that are filled out just fine.

What amazes me most about the film is the simplicity of its story. There is no rising action, no big climax we are really building to here. And what tension there might be is easily relieved by the fact we know what to expect or what is going to happen, if you know even a little bit of history. The pacing, acting and beautifully graceful musical score all help this move along in a way that doesn't necessarily require our short attention spans to be looking for that familiar conclusion. Instead we have become so invested in this character that Firth is playing so wonderfully that we only hop he can overcome his fear and lead his country at a time when a strong leader is most needed.

"The King's Speech" is not a large drama that has gained its status as serious Oscar contender because of its original story or its groundbreaking storytelling, special effects or even its sense of prestige. Instead it is just a character-driven story that relates a universal theme through an individual we would expect to have everything figured out. To see that even the most privileged of us all still have their issues is not just refreshing but it offers opportunity galore for a character actor to spread his wings and suggest the idea of what it was like to be that person they are portraying. All the actors here did that well, but Firth did it perfectly and as much as I tried to keep the awards chatter out of my brain, I could not escape the thought that Firth will no doubt be holding a golden statue come February.