Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham-Carter
Candian Rating: PG
Originally I did not want to write a review for the King’s Speech. There were a few reasons for this. I was feeling kind of possessive. I felt so connected with the movie that I thought it was somehow “my movie” and I didn’t want to share it.
I didn’t want to put something that was so close to my heart out there for people to criticize (yes I have issues), but this was before the Oscars, which made me realize there were millions of people who felt the same way as me!
So, that being said, the world probably does not need another glowing review of The King’s Speech.
But my blog does!
To begin my review, let me tell you a story from my teenhood. I was in grade 12, my French teacher, Monsieur Mallet, well…we didn’t get along. I had somewhat of an attendance problem and he had somewhat of a problem with bad attendance.
He would find sly ways of embarrassing me about it too. Once he went around the room asking each student a personal opinion on a random matter, like “where would you move to if you could go anywhere?” Then he got to me and said, “and Cindy, what do you think is an appropriate amount of days to stay home from school?”
Anyway, one day he gives us a speech assignment. He says, “any subject you want!” In my opinion, that is way too much freedom. That kind of freedom is for the French. English teachers rightly give strict guidelines so students won’t give speeches about the O.C. and “Why I Really Don’t Feel Like Giving a Speech Today”…le sigh.
So among these beatnik subjects was my mine: perpetual motion.
It seemed like a good idea at the time!
I thought it was cool, man! Don’t the cool kids talk about perpetual motion? Science centers!
A few days after we had given our speeches, Monsieur Mallet was Frenchly rambling on about on about nothing. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Suddenly he says, “take Cindy’s speech for example.”
Oh my gosh!
“Cindy picked a topic that is extremely boring”
We stare at him for a long time.
Let me say it in French to give you the full effect:
After Monsieur Mallet felt like he had kept us in enough suspense, he added, “but she made it very interesting because of THE WAY she worded it! I was not able to daydream for a second!”
And that brings me to one of the many reasons why I loved the King’s Speech.
I had only read one review before I watched it. The review said, “despite its seemingly dull premise, it’s actually quite charming.”
That review didn’t really do it justice, so still I wasn’t expecting much.
I love history, so I was looking forward to that. And of course it’s always good to see Colin Firth not playing Fitzwilliam Darcy (that’s right! His first name is Fitzwilliam!)
I am well aware of the possibility to make any topic interesting with the art of good storytelling. Mean Girls taught me this important lesson. So I was expecting it to be good! I was not skeptical at all.
What I was not expecting…was my heart going out to King George (nicknamed Bertie) so much that I cried for 9 minutes as he informed England that they would be going to war with Germany. During this 9 minute gutting of all my emotions, one of my favorite songs, Beethoven’s 7th, reinforced the sympathy and compassion that had been welling up in me after only 2 hours of getting to know Bertie.
It was too much emotion. I could not keep it together. And the theatre was packed.
Let me explain. The movie starts out with Bertie struggling to give a speech in a stadium that would also be transmitted through to the entire British Empire.
His stutter clutches his throat within the first sentence, and he cannot continue. At this point he is not the King and he is never planning to be. So while the pressure is high, it could be worse. His brother Edward (Guy Pearce) is next in line for the throne, and public speaking comes naturally to him, of course.
After trying many speech tutors who turn out to be douchy (a common word used in 1929), Bertie swears off teachers forever.
Still, Bertie’s wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter) sees how frustrated Bertie is with himself and she visits a speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Logue says he is the best, and that he will be able to do what the other teachers couldn’t.
The realism of Bertie’s reaction to therapy is incredibly realistic. When asked about his childhood, he responds with sharp anger, and says he is known for having a bad temper.
With neurological disorders, a temper comes with the territory. I know that my Adult ADHD and Tourette Syndrome cause me to suffer constant frustration and anger toward myself and others. Not being able to do what other people can do, and constantly failing at simple tasks that look and seem easy but in practice are…still extremely easy! But when you are discouraged or even blocked from accomplishing normal, every day tasks, then anger will happen.
You’ll go all day pushing the sadness down, trying not to let the reminders get to you. Then at the end of the day when something gets your goat, you go crazy! And in the meantime, you hurt and confuse whoever is around you.
So I immediately loved it when Bertie’s temper was included in the film. They didn’t shape his personality for the sake of Hollywood. And think about it, Colin Firth is the go-to guy for those “Perfect Man” roles. If anything appears to be wrong with that character, well it’s only because he’s misunderstood. Because really, he’s perfect.
Not this time. Colin Firth plays a real person with real flaws and with real relationships with real confrontations. Familial, spousely and theraply.
As the movie progresses, the relationship between Bertie and Lionel becomes so real that you can feel the closeness.
Bertie who is generally used to telling people what’s what, kicks and screams the whole way, unwilling to accept that he can do better, and the change that comes with that.
Lionel sees the potential and is stubborn in his “rules” for his student.
Soon Bertie finds out the unthinkable: his brother Edward is running away to France with his true love and is handing over the throne to him…literally seconds before World War II!
The movie does a good job of making you feel the pressure Bertie is under. You squirm in your seat for him. You pull on your collar a bit. And you thank God you are not in his shoes.
I have a parental personality, so I listen to the stories of lots of people. I’m interested in their psychology, how they think and feel about a situation. I also talk a lot about my problems. Like. A LOT.
So what I’m trying to say is that I am a therapist and a patient. This movie captured what it’s like to be on both sides, and it felt so good to see that.
How hard it is to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
How painful it is to dig deep and deal with issues you don’t want to think about.
That is why King George’s speech at the end of this movie made me spew tears at everyone within a 5 seat radius.
Through the frustration, anger and pain, through the stubbornness, through the repeated failures, King George VI was accomplishing something that most people could do easily and not even think twice about. There’s something to that.
Helena Bonham-Carter was a wonderfully supportive character. Even though her role may not have been as daunting as Colin’s, she still put forth all of her skills as an actress and made a great performance.
The story and characters are so well developed, you don’t even notice the time go by. “I could not even daydream for second!” and that is a big deal coming from me!
If you haven’t seen The King’s Speech yet, and you want to see a wonderfully touching movie with an EXTREMEMENT PLAT premise, you must see this one then. It has easily made my top 10.
If perpetual motion can be interesting, so can a King’s Speech.