Most years, when Oscar nominations are announced, there is some sort of British contingent reaping the rewards for their hard work as well as a stand out film that gains the most wide-spread amount of nominations too. Not too often do those two things go together, but Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” does just that, and for good reason.
A star ridden cast makes up this historical drama about the defining years of King George VI, as he struggled with a stammer, the abdication of his brother from the throne and the emergence of World War Two. Colin Firth plays the part of King George, known to friends as Bertie, a character which certainly suits his acting style.
Firth shows the pomp and circumstance of the King well but isn’t daunted by playing that same character as a vulnerable and struggling man, certainly worthy of his Academy nomination. He is supported by fellow Academy nominees, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, which makes up an impressive and appealing star trio.
Rush, probably best known for his part in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, is the perfect remedy to the proud King as he plays Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who treats the King for his speech impediment. He is understanding and loving at the same time as being fun and comedic and works as the contrast to the Prince, being a pauper of sorts in his normal family home in London.
This film isn’t just about the historical story but the relationship between the two as doctor and patient, as King and commoner, as two friends. The best, most moving scenes in the film are those where these potential boundaries are broken and the relationship flourishes.
As George VI’s wife, Carter plays almost a compromise of the other two characters; she has the pomp of the King but also the reasoning to come down to the level of Logue and shows these two characteristics well as she loves and supports her on-screen husband.
Director, Tom Hooper’s last feature film was “The Damned United”, using a similar style of the film: the cinematography, the filter use and the differing feel to the different scenes.
The way that George’s meetings with Lionel are shot is just one of the ways which this film triumphs: starting in an awkward and uncomfortable manner that really emphasises the mood of the meetings, they slowly become more conventional as the meetings, and their friendship, go on.
The locations and camera angles add to the aesthetics of the film, creating a very believable 1930s London, as does the soundtrack and sound design: the use of classical music not only gives a great deal of authority to the film but sticks to the time-period and themes of the film well.
“The King’s Speech” is a film about humility, ditching your pride to get things done properly. Although a historical drama, accurately written in reference to Logue’s personal diaries, its main drama is the relationships between George and his Royal family and between him and a lowly speech therapist.
There is real power in the journey the audience go through with George, culminating in a mesmerising final scene as the King prepares the country for war. The film appeals to a wide range of people in many different ways, as can be seen by its Oscar nominations. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and good looking film which deserves all the plaudits it gets.