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Home Reviews LFF 2010 LFF: The King's Speech
LFF: The King's Speech Print E-mail
Written by Selina Pearson   
Thursday, 21 October 2010 19:43
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce

Poor Bertie (Firth). He has to deal with something most of us hate: public speaking. He fluffs his way through a speech at a twin-towered Wembley, packed full of people for the closing ceremony for the Empire Exhibition. Not a good start for the King’s second son.

The need to deliver a speech becomes increasingly important to the royals with the introduction of the wireless; "we’ve become actors," declares King George V (Gambon). Relentlessly and cruelly badgered by his imperious father, the Duke of York has become defined by his speech impediment.

Poor wife Liz (Bonham Carter) scours high and low for someone who can help with Bertie’s crippling stammer and eventually finds alliterative antipodean, Lionel Logue (Rush) lurking around Harley Street. Logue rolls out the full Henry Higgins act in a speech exercise montage, ranging from diaphragm exercises to 12A-busting sweary rants. They delve into the source of the Prince's impediments, uncovering a bruised psyche and years of familial taunting from his overbearing father and caddish older brother.

The film deals with themes of inadequacy and dedication to duty. The latter is shunned by Edward VIII (Pearce) in his pursuit of twice divorced Wallis Simpson. The setting of the abdication provides the impetus for the soon to be king to attempt to find a cure, and the build up to World War II haunts the whole film.

David Seidler’s bright and witty script allows the fantastic cast to shine. Firth leaves all memories of tacky rom-coms far behind; a fine follow-up to his heartbreaking performance in A Single Man. By his side, Bonham Carter fills the shoes of the supportive and assertive wife amiably. Rush as Logue is effervescent, warm and funny and threatens to steal the film. It is an endearing, rich and humourous piece, much superior to Stephen Frears' The Queen in tone, script and subject matter.


We have seen this all before, but never so articulate.


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