out of Five
Running time: 110
Stylishly directed, brilliantly written and featuring terrific performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, this is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging drama that's almost certain to be leading the charge come Oscar time.
What's it all about?
Directed by Tom Hooper, The King's Speech is based on a true story and stars Colin Firth as the Queen's father, Prince Albert - the second son of King George V (Michael Gambon) - who suffers from a crippling speech impediment that makes his royal duties next to impossible. After a succession of useless physicians, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter as the Queen Mum) persuades him to meet unconventional Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and, despite a rocky start, Albert (or Bertie, to his family) begins to make some progress.
However, in 1936 when his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), Bertie is suddenly faced with the prospect of becoming King George VI and with war on the horizon, he's expected to deliver a vitally important radio address to the nation.
Colin Firth might as well start clearing a space on his mantelpiece, as his Oscar for Best Actor is all but assured; he's perfectly cast as Bertie and delivers a terrific performance that isn't afraid to portray Albert as emotionally cold and frequently tetchy. Rush is equally good as Logue (a Best Supporting Actor nod is also a good bet) and there's strong support from Helena Bonham-Carter as Elizabeth, whose warmth and dry humour make her relationship with Bertie genuinely touching.
Hooper's direction is offbeat and interesting throughout, particularly with regard to the way he frames his scenes; he's also a dab hand with a montage sequence. Similarly, the production design is extraordinary and packed with fascinating details, from the pea-souper fog scenes to the row of gas masks hanging up in Buckingham Palace.
The witty script crackles with great dialogue (Rush is often very funny) and there are several wonderful scenes – highlights include a singing sequence involving a model airplane and a very funny swearing incident. That said, the film does rather airbrush out Albert's Nazi sympathising, aside from a brief scene where he's shown admiring Hitler's public speaking abilities.
Superbly directed, brilliantly written and impeccably acted, The King’s Speech is a thoroughly engaging, frequently funny and genuinely moving drama that is certain to pick up multiple nominations come Oscar time. Highly recommended.