Another film I had purposely neglected, not having had much interest in the subject matter. But The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper’s (The Damned United) film has received such love (“a film that makes your spirit soar”), and 7 Golden Globe nominations, it had become increasingly hard to ignore. It’s a fine film, and based as it is on such a historical footnote, it was more interesting than it had any right to be. And as for all the nominations? Well, more on that later – but although all well deserved as nominations, I’m not convinced that any of them are deserving of further consideration. But when you’re talking spirits soaring, well…don’t bet against any of them.
Both Colin Firth (King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush (speech therapist to the king, Lionel Logue) play their roles broadly. Helena Bonham Carter hits just the right note as Queen to the King. Then again, she’s always pitch perfect. I’ve said it many times if you know me: one of my favorite actresses. King George VI (Queen Elizabeth’s father) had already begun ‘treatment’ for his stammering, even before his heir-to-the-throne brother threw it all over for Wallace Simpson (she sure takes a trashing). Logue’s unorthodox treatments get him into hot water at one point (but nothing else had worked), but he and the King prevail in the end. As we knew they would.
The best thing about the movie is the friendship that develops between Aussie commoner Logue and His Royal Highness. Unusual in that day and age, even as the monarchy had lost much of its real power. This class undertone is fascinating. Even more fascinating is America’s low-brow yearning for royalty of its own. This may explain much of the movies popularity. Otherwise it’s just a feel good stand up and cheer, happy end kind of gig. With admittedly a good cast of fine actors.