As one of the first of the Gen Ys, I find the concept of the royal family totally alien. Thus, it’s fascinating to watch English cinema’s depiction of the royals. Never mind the whole ‘born into privilege’ thing – these are real people with real failings, and we should feel sorry for them, it seems. I don’t mean to sound antagonistic, but as a member of the colonies, it’s all a bit weird, revering someone purely because of their lineage.
That being said, there have been a couple of great films made recently about the House of Windsor – first The Queen and now The King’s Speech, which could be seen as a kind of prequel. Colin Firth stars as King George VI, whose ascension to the throne was as irregular as they come. The film opens with his failed speech at the 1925 Empire Exhibition at Wembley, and it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for the poor man as he stammers horribly throughout. Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), forever on a mission to help her husband, solicits the help of one Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a brusque Australian expat. So begins an odd-couple pairing as the reluctant King George submits to Lionel’s extremely unconventional methods.
The thing about a film like this is we all know how it’s going to end – even if we don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of the history. (In fact, if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the entire movie.) This means that the quality of the film rests solely in the hands of the director and his stars, all of which are stunning. Firth is at the top of his game, seemingly burdened by all that pesky wealth and privilege (sorry – it’s the colonies thing again), whilst Rush is of course wonderful. It’s great to watch such skilful actors share so much screentime in what could quite easily have been a stage play. The real standout, however, is Helena Bonham Carter. It seems like aeons since I’ve seen her play a character that isn’t completely off the wall, and her performance as Queen Elizabeth is both sincere and hilarious.
The film is quite pretty, if somewhat drab, and like The Queen, it doesn’t feature the type of cinematography that draws attention to itself, excepting the presentation of the speeches themselves, when the camera focuses on minute details such as the microphone or the speaker’s lips.
The King’s Speech screams Oscar-bait, but at the same time, one cannot deny the perfection of the performances. Tom Hooper’s direction is flawless, also. Basically, if the subject matter interests you, then you won’t be disappointed.Rating: