The King’s Speech, produced and distributed by the Weinsteins, is yet another film that will have perceptive audience members whispering, “I’ve seen this before.” It seems that the overwhelming majority of movies today, even those of the so-called “indie” scene, follow an ample of amount of rules in regards to casting, pacing, and familiar plot lines. The King’s Speech features a protagonist facing a daunting challenge that he must overcome. He has a strong-for-her-time wife who employs an unorthodox specialist to help out. Despite failures, frustrations, questions about the strange methods of the hired help, declarations of giving up, and mounting pressure, the protagonist turns out just fine in the end. Run-time: 118 minutes.
Emerging as an Academy Award front-runner, The King’s Speech features the biggest British stars-Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and Guy Pierce-giving some of their biggest performances. Though I favor Bridges this year, should Firth win the Best Actor Oscar, I doubt I’ll find myself shattering my coffee table with a sledgehammer before the exit cue music begins to roll. He is masterful in this work and we all know that when actors undertake roles of characters that possess some kind of physical or mental handicap, mounted and molded gold will almost invariably find itself on said actor’s mantle.
However, Firth would earn the trophy for hatching the truly endearing aspect of this film for the viewer’s eyes. Perhaps the reason this piece is gaining such critical and mass acclaim, even with all of the rehashed, hackneyed ploys to make it appealing, is that it is about all of us. Be it a king, a president (I noticed an ironic correlation between the unfortunate King’s forced pauses and FDR’s rehearsed ones, both creating a dramatic effect), or any person propped up on a pedestal, the theme of this movie is that we all share the traits, experiences, and challenges of simply being human. The best moments in the movie are when “Bertie” (Firth) and Lionel (I also wouldn’t be floored if Rush won too) are together on screen, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and pasts with each other. These scenes along with the climactic speech bring out the humanity in the King. In many ways, Bertie is brought down to the level of the common man, but, most ironically, it is his bravery that makes him worthy of being called “Your Majesty” by Lionel in the film’s closing moments; this after Bertie recognizes he has a “friend” in Lionel, the first of his life.
I refuse to put a “spoiler alert” at the top of this column because if you’ve seen maybe ten movies in your life, little of this film’s outcome will be remotely surprising. With that said, this film will entertain and have you rooting for it come Oscar night in a few weeks. It explores the surprising lack of power a British monarch actually has, but in an effort to have watchers of the film relate to a king. It even displays a king relating to one of us. I’m not sure that many others besides Firth and Rush, regardless of their resumes and recognizable faces (“It’s a big-budget British movie, I guess they have to put these guys in it.”) could have pulled this off so well.