Usually I don't go out of my way to see movies about British monarch history. There's nothing more boring to me than historical re-enactments of King George number-whatever that droll on and on about simpler times and regal accolades. With The King's Speech receiving such high acclaim this Winter, I felt I had to put my bias aside and give this royal film a shot. Thankfully this movie plays unlike most historical British epics and has a great underlying humor brought forth by the wonderful lead actors, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
Speech tells the story of King George VI who begins his reign during the advent of global radio broadcasts which require His Majesty to give frequent addresses to his public. We find out early on in the film that Berdie (K G VI's nickname) has a speech problem that causes him to stutter often. In order to fix this issue he and his wife (played by a solid Helena Bonham Carter who for once isn't scary in a movie) seek out the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush). The movie is primarily about the tensions between Firth and Rush that grows into a long-lasting friendship. The back and forth between the two powers the whole movie and brings some light-hearted moments into a very serious time leading up to WWII.
The script from David Seidler is well written and we get engaging dialogue throughout that mixes drama with some really good laughs. Rush and Firth play off each other perfectly and I'd actually argue that Rush gives a more engaging and likable performance. Firth, however, pulls off the speech impediment very well and is extremely believable throughout. You can tell that he put a lot of work into researching the role. Director Tom Hooper shoots the speech scenes brilliantly so that you feel the tension that the King feels as he tries to avoid stammering through his words.
The performances by Firth and Rush will certainly earn Oscar nods. I feel Rush is a bit screwed to be going up against Christian Bale's masterpiece in The Fighter. Firth is probably a shoe-in for Best Actor and he cements himself as the best British actor working today. Speech is another 4.5 out of 5 movie that continues a very strong showing by Hollywood this holiday season. I feel that I am now way ahead of the game in seeing the Best Picture noms. My bet is that come January I will have seen 8 or 9 of the 10 Best Picture nominees for the awards in March.