The King’s Speech (2010)
Reviewed on 2011 March 3
I knew this won the Oscar® for Best Picture, and I knew that a dear friend of mine decided this would be the one movie she’d bother to see in the theater this year; with her schedule, she waits for the DVD. I knew little else about it but these two factors combined were enough to make me want to see it, and it was just as wonderful as I hoped. Now I’m just scratching the days off the calendar until the DVD comes out.
Prince George VI (Colin Firth, getting the Best Actor Oscar® just for what he could convey with those eyes) is a reluctant heir to the throne. His brother Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) is next in line, but there’s a fly in the ointment. He’s in love with the twice-divorced American heiress Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), and there’s simply no way this woman is going to sit next to him on the throne. Edward refuses to give up his woman, abdicating the throne and pushing the shy, stammering George in line. George just wants to be a loving husband to his beloved Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and be a good daddy to his children, and has about as much interest in taking the crown as a sloth. (Before someone takes that the wrong way, the man rose amazingly to the occasion and his rallied his people during WWII. I’m just saying he’d initially rather had a root canal than been king.) Since this is his legacy, he’s going to be called upon to give many speeches, and since there’s a sabre-rattling idiot dragging Europe into a second world war, they have to inspire the Britons. He recruits an unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who is probably the first person focused on helping George the human instead of being hung up on George the royal.
The script was wonderful, and Firth made the most of it, expressing volumes even when he wasn’t speaking. I think the F-word is beaten to death in most movies, but this is the first one I’ve seen where it actually serves a concrete purpose and is funny. It was also an interesting glimpse into the royals and how they viewed things, with their description of Wallis Simpson seducing David with “skills acquired at an establishment in Shanghai” and more dismay over her divorces than the fact she seemed to have a soft spot for the Nazis, not to mention the Queen Mum’s astonishment at David’s seeming grief at the loss of his father.
Four chocolate morsels, from a U.K. confectioner like Cadbury, and eaten with stiff upper lip.