The King’s Speech Review
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Colin Firth has got to be one of film’s most underappreciated stars. For years, the charming British actor has consistently offered up one solid performance after another—yet it never seemed to be the right role in the right film at the right time to earn him the Oscar that he often deserved. Earlier this year, he finally earned his first Oscar nod for his role in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, eventually losing out to Jeff Bridges (another honor that was long overdue). But although there were a number of strong male performances this year (like James Franco’s in 127 Hours), there’s no doubt in my mind that this year is finally Firth’s year.

In The King’s Speech, Firth stars as Albert, the Duke of York, the son of Britain’s King George V (Michael Gambon). In 1925, during the early days of radio, Albert is asked to give his first speech on behalf of his father—a speech that goes horribly, due to his persistent stutter.

For years, Albert works with a number of speech therapists, attempting to find a cure for his stutter. But then, in 1934, just as he’s about to give up, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), meets Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist who’s known for his unconventional approach.

With Hitler’s rousing speeches inspiring Germans—and with the future of the British throne in question—Albert understands the importance of speaking well, so he reluctantly agrees to work with Logue. In the process, he gains more than just the ability to overcome his stutter; he also gains the confidence to lead his country.

Though a film about a prince with a speech impediment may not sound like a must-see, director Tom Hooper (The Damned United) and his spectacular cast make The King’s Speech an engrossing—and often even emotional—drama.

But it all starts with the story—because The King’s Speech is so much more than just a simple story about a stutter. It’s about politics and history. It’s about the dawn of radio and the rise of Hitler. It’s about the life of a royal—its pressures, its expectations, and its burdens. And it’s about family—the relationships between a father and his son and between two brothers. Somehow, writer David Seidler manages to get all of these points across without making the film feel dull or heavy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Though the circumstances are often serious, the story is surprisingly witty—and sometimes even wildly entertaining.

Of course, the story is only reinforced by an Oscar-worthy cast. Firth is as charming as he’s ever been as the stuttering prince. Despite Albert’s royal blood, Firth makes him feel approachable and sympathetic. His ongoing struggle makes him vulnerable, while his self-deprecating wit (along with his tendency toward hilarious outbursts) makes him endearing. He’s not just a prince; he’s a human being. And audiences will easily relate to his shame and frustration, while admiring his determination to overcome his weakness.

Rush, too, adds personality to the film as the eccentric speech therapist. His unorthodox methods (and his insistence on calling the prince “Bertie”) help to keep the tone light and enjoyable.

Not only are both performances entertaining, though; they’re also moving and memorable. They add depth and humanity to a remarkable script to make The King’s Speech one of the best films of the year. No stuttering here; I can say with confidence that The King’s Speech is simply marvelous.

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