1992 may have been Queen Elizabeth II's annus horribilis, but it had nothing on 1936 for the future King George VI. While his rogue father is still warm in the grave, his errant brother gives up the Crown in favour of a divorced American consort, forcing a reluctant Prince to assume the mantle as Hitler prepares to assume Europe. And if that wasn't enough, some upstart Australian is determined to correct his untreatable stammer. B-b-b---bugger.

If A Single Man hadn't convinced you that Colin Firth is the actor of his generation, The King's Speech will. With calm, considered precision he takes the role and makes it his own. Any perception of Colin the actor is quickly replaced by Albert the Prince, then George the King as he's swept up in the madness of his age. With every tick, cluck and stammer, his personal suffering is given voice in the most troubling of ways. It's a bravura performance of extraordinary subtlety.

Yet Hooper's film is less a history lesson than it is the study of a troubled man in troubling times. At its heart is the trust and emerging friendship between a monarch and a commoner, self-styled speech therapist Lionel Logue, played with sublime effectivity by Geoffrey Rush. Albert's initial unwillingness to persevere with Logue is indicative of his greater pain, yet he does and with Logue's help grows from Prince to Monarch to man. It's astounding stuff

The film is kicked into goal with the winning support of Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth.“First you may call me Your Majesty, then ma'am as in palm, not m'am as in ham. And never call me Liz,” she says cheerily when found in Logue's lounge by his shocked wife. Who else could deliver such a line with breezy aplomb? Carter effortlessly evokes all the charm and virtue that made Elizabeth Albert's rock, and the loving focus of a war-torn nation.

An excellent, if unintended, companion piece to The Queen, The King's Speech is a mesmerising film that resolves to present a man's ordinary struggle with extraordinary circumstances. A major achievement, and one deserving of the inevitable accolades coming its way, here is a tour-de-force that achieves greatness without the flash and show that bog similar productions. Classical filmmaking at its best, The King's Speech is the year's best film.


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Colin Firth
Geoffrey Rush
Helena Bonham Carter
Guy Pearce

Tom Hooper

David Seidler

UK / Australia

M / 118 minutes

December 26, 2010
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Stacks Image 193
moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks