The Reel Deal
THE KING’S SPEECH
A Reel Deal Film Review
Film Insight by Tyler Malone
Reel Rating: 5 out of 5
“FIRTH AMONG EQUALS”
I have been saying for quite some time now that, when it comes to actors, Colin Firth is first among equals. He is a great communicator of the unspoken: he knows, understands and communicates the inner life of the characters he plays better than most. Sure, there are plenty of great, underrated actors working today, but few (that haven’t already taken a statuette home) deserve an Academy Award more than Colin Firth. Last year his performance in A Single Man blew me away. I was disappointed that the movie and the performances (both his and Julianne Moore’s) weren’t given more attention. When he was not given the Academy Award, I cynically said to myself: “Well, there goes his one chance at finally getting the accolades he deserves.” I said this not because I didn’t think he could ever dazzle us again with an equal or better performance, but rather because he unfortunately isn’t as “bankable” as certain other moviestars and, with the reality of Hollywood being what it is, he inevitably has a harder time getting some of the better, juicier roles. What I didn’t realize (until watching The King’s Speech) is that last year’s A Single Man may have merely been the beginning of Firth’s greatest artistic period–the exciting fact is that perhaps his best work is yet to come.
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, another vastly underrated master of his craft, as King George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue, are undeniably the strongest parts of this film. That is not to say that the other performances, the directing, the writing, etc. aren’t to be admired, it’s just a testament to how absolutely perfect Firth and Rush are when acting at their best.
The story is an interesting one, but one which sounds like it wouldn’t make a film that is anything but a snoozefest. The basic story is that of King George VI overcoming his stammer at the onset of World War II and becoming the great communicator that England needed as it entered war with Germany. Surprisingly, the film is filled with tension and emotion, and moves along at a quick, but never hurried, pace. Somehow I was at the edge of my seat, even though the main conflict is man versus stutter.
At one point, as King George VI watches a newsreel that includes Hitler giving a speech, his daughter asks what the fuhrer is saying. The king responds, “I don’t know, but he seems to be saying it rather well.” It is slightly strange to see the king envious of the dictator, and yet it fits. Everything becomes clear: people don’t care what you are saying, they care how you say it. It’s all about being a great communicator.
I don’t know that the film makes any judgments on whether good communication is actually good for the people or not, after all the film clearly shows Hitler communicating even better than King George VI at his best, but it does explore how we humans need communication and how we hail great communicators. In a way this is a sort of prequel to that other well-received Oscar-contender The Social Network, in that it explores how obsessed with communication we are as a society (and how good communication is privileged over good content). The Social Network explores a generation where everyone feels the pressure to be a great communicator because they see that communication is what we as a society admire above all. Anyways, I’m off on a tangent, so I’ll end here. But we’ve reached the conclusion of my review, and I’m not sure if I’ve communicated my admiration for this film well enough, so I will just say now in all caps in order to make sure my recommendation has gotten across: GO SEE THIS FILM!
How’s that for great communication?
The King’s Speech is a film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. It stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pierce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon. The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.
Written by Tyler Malone
Photography Courtesy of the Weinstein Company
Design by Marie Havens
Film Still from The King’s Speech, Photography Courtesy of the Weinstein Company