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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The King's Speech


Guest reviewer: Matt Stevens, E! Online

Starring: Colin Firth ... King George VI
Helena Bonham Carter ... Queen Elizabeth
Derek Jacobi ... Archbishop Cosmo Lang
Robert Portal ... Equerry
Richard Dixon ... Private Secretary
Paul Trussell ... Driver for The House of Windsor
Adrian Scarborough ... BBC Radio Announcer
Andrew Havill ... Robert Wood
Charles Armstrong ... BBC Technician
Roger Hammond ... Dr. Blandine Bentham
Geoffrey Rush ... Lionel Logue
Calum Gittins ... Laurie Logue
Jennifer Ehle ... Myrtle Logue
Dominic Applewhite ... Valentine Logue
Ben Wimsett ... Anthony Logue


Synopsis: In the mid 1930s, King George V of England is concerned about the immediate future of the British monarchy. His eldest son David, first in line for the throne, is in a relationship with American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Marriage to a divorcée and being King of England (and thus head of the Church of England) is incompatible. And King George V's second son, Albert (or Bertie as he is called by family), second in line for the throne, speaks with a stammer, something he's had since he was a child. Although a bright and temperamental man, Bertie, because of his stammer, does not capture the confidence of the public, which is paramount if Britain does enter into war against Hitler's regime. As King George V states about living in a communications age, a king can no longer get by in life solely by looking good in a regal uniform and knowing how to battle riding a horse. Elizabeth, Bertie's loving wife, wants to help her husband gain confidence solely in his increasing need to speak at public functions, regardless of if he becomes king or not. She finds an unconventional Australian raised speech therapist named Lionel Logue to help assist in curing Bertie's stammer, with no one, even Lionel's family, knowing he has this job with the royal highness. Lionel and Bertie's relationship is often an antagonistic one as Lionel feels the need for the two to be equals during their sessions, with Lionel even calling him Bertie instead of your royal highness, which doesn't sit well with him, as he is not used to such dealings with a commoner. Lionel does in time become Bertie's confidante and friend, especially from Lionel's side as he tries to determine the psychological issues behind the speech impediment. An issue with Lionel, which he does not hide but also does not fully disclose, may threaten their relationship altogether, which may be especially problematic as a still stammering Bertie ultimately becomes King George VI and as Britain enters into war with Germany. Written by Huggo



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Review: Review by Matt Stevens, E! Online

You wouldn't guess a radio-address could be as rousing and nail-biting as a climactic boxing match or a karate competition, but beneath all the manners and monarchs, Speech is a classic—and expertly crafted—underdog fight story. It's Rocky with royalty.

Plagued with a stammer since childhood, Prince Albert (Firth) has long lived in the shadow of his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) and tyrannical father, King George V. After Albert's unsuccessful visits to physicians, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) convinces him to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).



Like any good trainer, this vocal coach has rigid rules and unconventional methods, including singing, dancing and spewing profanity. Albert initially protests but begins to make progress, especially as he explores the psychological reasons for his disorder.

When George V dies in 1936 and Edward abdicates the throne to marry an American (scandal!), Albert is suddenly crowned King George VI. With England on the brink of war and in desperate need of a commanding leader, the new king must overcome his fears and his tied tongue to deliver a radio address that will rally the nation.

Far from a boring Brit drama or stuffy period piece, this immensely satisfying film sparkles with wit and charm. Despite the play-like nature of the script, director Tom Hooper keeps Speech flowing, with lyrical editing and sumptuous classical music underscoring an offbeat visual style.

But the real pleasure is watching Firth and Rush, both at the top of their game, circle and spar and eventually strip away their differences—the pic pokes good fun at class distinction—to reveal their common humanity and form an unlikely bond.

Supporting players are also stellar, notably Carter and Derek Jacobi as the unctuous archbishop.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Timothy Spall's broad portrayal of Winston Churchill strikes a false note in an otherwise pitch-perfect cast.


 

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