|The King's Speech Review|
Imagine the pitch for this.
"Uh, a speech therapist is going to help a man who is second in line to the throne overcome a stammer."
"Uh-huh...is there a love interest?"
"No, not really, this potential King is a devoted family man, and his loving wife really cares and tries to help him overcome his speech impediment."
This is the kind of the film that if we relied on pitches, it probably wouldn't exist without selling your soul a little.
"It's a buddy comedy, where one buddy is the potential King of England and the other is an failed Australian actor turned speech therapist."
Thankfully pitches are not always necessary. In fact, according to Geoffrey Rush, the script showed up on his door in a brown paper bag, dropped off by a neighbour in Melbourne who is a friend of the writer in England. It was supposed to be a play, and while Rush didn't have the schedule permitting such a thing, he saw potential for a screenplay in it, and hence the Executive Producer credit for Rush you see during the opening credits.
This is one of those great British films, it has wit, charm, style and substance. The buzz has already been strong about Colin Firth's performance, but that is only half the story for without Rush's performance to play up to Firth's staid and stammering Prince there wouldn't be such a solid give and take between the two. The film is at its best when the two share the screen.
Helena Bonham Carter should get some praise as well...it's nice to see her not playing a crazed psychopath or Tim Burton character. Here she plays Queen Elizabeth (the first one)
David Seidler is where I am going to focus some praise though. First off, he has written an amazing script that covers history, class relations and delves into the character of King George VI in a way that is never dull, tedious or even sentimental...this film will make you cringe at some of the painful moments of the man trying to give his speeches.
Second, he's a man of his word. According to director Tom Hooper Seidler, who grew up with a similar impediment himself and views King George VI as a bit of a personal hero, began digging into the story and eventually got the Queen Mother's permission to write the story...but with the caveat that he would wait until she had passed on as she had no urge to put herself through it again.
As Hooper succinctly put it, "How was he to know she would live to 180?"
Whether or not this film holds onto the praise all the way out to 2011 for the Oscar nominations is besides the point. When you get a chance to see a well acted, well written flick, you take it.
4 stars out of 5.