Going just from the basic description of The King’s Speech – the King
of England must overcome a stammering problem in order to gain his people’s
faith – it sounds like it will be a kind of stodgy, dull Masterpiece
Theater type of spectacle.
Luckily, that is not the case. The King’s Speech actually has a sly
humorous vein underneath all the pomp and circumstances. Yes, it is an arty
movie custom made for Oscar gold, but it can also be enjoyed as a feel-good
personality-driven underdog drama.
Also, it is much funnier than you would guess.
The King’s Speech
takes a look at a semi-forgotten chapter of not-all-that-distant history:
the short-lived monarchy of Britain’s King George VI, a smart but insecure
royal who suffered from a debilitating speech defect, a persistent stammer
which made public speaking painful.
was a bearable problem when he was a Prince, but when he is coronated – and
soon afterwards has to rally the country in the fight against Nazi Germany –
a certain amount of confidence and suavity is necessary.
Therefore his loving wife (Helena Bonham Carter) – playing a character who
would grow to be the Queen Mother – decides to find a speech therapist to
help her husband get over the condition once and for all.
ends up finding Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) – who is not a doctor, but an
aspiring actor. Logue has some offbeat techniques and demands, against
protocol, that in their dealings he and the royal be complete equals. The
King fights him every inch of the way, but eventually they form a friendship
and help to improve the King’s speaking voice.
film is beautifully shot and features some amazing acting by many of
Britain’s biggest talents. It is also much more involving than you might
expect, and as said before often anarchically funny. One of the most
humorous moments was a long scene where the King finally breaks through on
his stutter by being instructed by Logue to curse, which he starts politely
but then eventually gaining gusto and cursing like a sailor.
scene also apparently single-handedly gained this film its R rating, because
there is nothing in this film that is in the least bit objectionable – that
scene included, by the way.
However, The King’s Speech is a droll and smart historical drama
which is extremely well-written and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
to say that the script here is on the level of The Social Network –
which at this point appears to be The King’s Speech’s prime
competition for this year’s Best Picture Oscar. Honestly, the movie as a
whole is not as good, either.
However, The King’s Speech is more pleasant, with more traditionally
upbeat and Academy-friendly characters and the movie will likely end up the
While this is not probably the most justified conclusion, The King’s
Speech is artistic and well-made enough that it will merely be a slight
disservice, not a horrible affront.
The King’s Speech
is eminently worthy of
praise, even if it does not deserve it quite as much as The Social
Network. This film is nonetheless a wonderful example of smart and
classic filmmaking. The fact that it is old-fashioned rather than cutting
edge, hopeful rather than cynical, uplifting rather than downbeat – that is
hardly the filmmakers’ problem, in fact it is their intention. The Academy
will almost always celebrate sincere artistry over the cutting edge.
bully for The King’s Speech. It will probably win Best Picture. And
while it may not be the best picture
– actually, of the ten films nominated, The King’s Speech is only
fourth or fifth best
– it’s still damned good.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: February 13, 2011.