Usually hype is a big put-off for me, partly because I feel it sets up for disappointment. I refused for a long time to read the Harry Potter books and I don’t plan on partaking of the Twilight madness any time soon. It is often the same with films, but David Seidler’s (screenplay) and Tom Hooper’s (Director), The King’s Speech deserves ever bit of the hype and acclamation it is currently receiving.
It is an incredibly beautiful film; from the scenery to the sparkling dialogue, the bitter-sweet story line to the deeply human view of The Royals, every element of the 118 minutes is stunning, elegant and a testament to the British Film industry.
For anyone who does not know the outline of the plot, it does exactly what it says on the tin. George VI was blighted by a crippling stammer which most of the real world knew nothing about. Fighting against expectation to step in at the eleventh hour as King (following his brother’s abdication) due to his mass of self doubt and insecurity, the story unfolds a gentle and emotional tale of how even the most powerful are reduced to the basic human elements of us all. It portrays a courage that we do not see in heads of state and follows a very real journey of what, in essence, is a very ‘normal’ man.
The casting for this delicate screenplay was perfect. It combined some of my favourite contemporary actors who, for some, could have just taken on the role of their lives. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush obviously take centre stage as King George and his vocal coach Lionel Logue, but they are not alone in their brilliance. Colin Firth I adore anyway and would struggle to hear a harsh word against him (even if it is deserved – I seem to remember quite an awful football film he was in *shudders*) and his Bafta is surely only warming the spot his Oscar will take. But for me, the absolute outstanding performance was by Geoffery Rush – it will be a crime if he fails to win Best Supporting Actor. His face alone could tell some remarkable tales but he is so full of subtle character in himself that he is an utter joy to watch.
Queen Helena is of course wonderful, as ever and has finally been cast as Queen in a good film (I was less impressed with her Red version in Burton’s Alice In Wonderland). Even though I am not exactly a Royalist, the Queen Mum is thought of, even by me, with some affection and to see some back story and character to her life was truly enlightening. It not only cemented my love for Queen Helena but helped give life to one of Windsor’s more interesting Royals.
I am also always surprised by how impressed I am by Guy Pearce. I know he has stared and acted in some incredible films and always takes a good part, but for me he shall always be Mike from Neighbours. So to see him bring to life the rebellious royal devoted to life and love, Edward VIII was interesting; and yes, before you ask I think he did a remarkable job however, clearly not of the same calibre of the leads.
As for the ‘fun royals’, who else better to portray the young Princess Margaret than the incredibly talented Ramona Marquez of Outnumbered fame. For any none Brits (and those Brits who have still to catch an episode) you really need to try and see this little starlet in action, the sitcom is hugely funny mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of her lines are improvised, causing much corpsing among the adults. Such a smart little girl. Click HERE for a YouTube clip.
Oh! And Jennifer Ehle’s in it too! I didn’t realise at first, but my long loved Miss Eliza Bennett teams up (if only briefly) with her Mr Darcy again. Made me happy!
I am shamefully lacking in my knowledge of recent Royals, only knowing the vague aspects of the abdication and George’s succession into the second world war. The King’s Speech carefully educates the watchers as to this brief history without, for one moment, allowing the viewer to feel the information rammed down their throat. It was interesting and detailed in ways beyond dialogue with costumes and scenery adding whole-heartedly to this atmospheric snap shot of British history.
Unless I haven’t made it completely clear, this is a wonderful film that makes cinema going an absolute treat. Beautiful, heart-warming and elegant with that added edge of British wit. Loved it.