Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The King's Speech

Guest review by Muriel Smith.

Albert was never meant to be King. He was shy, retiring and had that awful stammer. He was the younger of the two brothers and everyone knows that the philandering older brother, Edward, should have been King.

In The King's Speech, Edward (Guy Pearce) comes across as a playboy who would rather be off playing with his friends, drinking, smoking cigarettes and chasing the love of his life, an American divorcee. Meanwhile, dependable, likable Albert (Colin Firth) stays home in the palace with his beautiful wife, the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) and their two daughters (the oldest little girl will eventually become Queen Elizabeth).

A flashback shows Albert (known as Bertie) at his father’s deathbed, trying to say goodbye. Bertie stammers and becomes flustered, at which point his dying father sits up in bed and bellows at him to stop stammering and learn how to speak. It becomes achingly clear that Bertie has had an unhappy childhood. Even his own brother calls him “b-b-b-b-Bertiie.”

Bertie’s wife helps him find a speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an eccentric Australian who, upon meeting Bertie, asks him what he would like to be called. Bertie replies, “You may call me Your Royal Highness,” to which Lionel answers, “I’ll call you Bertie.” Thus begins a lifelong struggle to improve Bertie’s speech as well as a long and happy friendship between the two men which goes on for the rest of their lives.

The acting in The King's Speech is superb. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush play off of each other with just the right amount of pizazz. Some of the funniest moments in the film are when Lionel has Bertie doing all kinds of acrobatics and histrionics to help him relax, and thus help him speak without stuttering.

When Lionel visits the palace for the first time, he is surrounded by luxury in an enormous room with one elegant chair placed in the center. As Lionel is about to sit down on it, Bertie jumps to attention, grabs Lionel and shouts, “Only Kings can sit in that chair.” Lionel continues to dance around the chair, trying to sit down, while Bertie struggles to keep him out of it. “No other person has ever sat in it,” Bertie says, “only Kings.” When Lionel finally succeeds in pushing Bertie out of the way and sits down, he gloats at Bertie as if to say, “I’ve won this round.”

This is, indeed, a great movie. I recommend it to everyone, young and old. And here lies my one criticism. Because of one short scene where Lionel has Bertie shouting the F-word like a rapid fire machine gun as fast and as loud and as long as he can keep it up, the film is rated R. If only he had used the D-word (duck) or the L-word (luck), then it would have been a perfect family film. Children would enjoy it and learn some history in the process.

I hope Hollywood takes note of the kinds of films millions of people want to see.

(Editor's note: A PG-13 version was recently released in a limited run. So, I think they took Muriel's recommendation to heart. Also, look for the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 19th.)

Royal Cinemas, Harwich 6, $6.50 senior price.


Liz's Mom said...

I enjoyed reading this charming, amusing and touching review of a film I want very much to see.

Thank you Muriel.

Dell Smith said...

Thanks for reading, Liz's mom.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

This was a wonderful review of a fabulous movie. A big thank you to your guest reviewer, Muriel Smith! :)

Dell Smith said...

I think she'll be back. After she sees another movie.

Robin said...

This is a great review! I agree -- this film is on my must-see list!