Loud and clear with heart

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Imust ad­mit, when I first read the peo­ple be­hind The Queen were go­ing to wring royal drama from King Ge­orge VI’s speech im­ped­i­ment, I couldn’t help but roll my cyn­i­cal lit­tle eyes. If you were go­ing to mark off a check­list for Os­car oh-so-wor­thi­ness, The King’s Speech would tick all the boxes. His­tor­i­cal fig­ures: check. Pro­tag­o­nist with phys­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal ob­sta­cle: check. Dis­tin­guished cast: check. Po­ten­tial for ver­bose mono­logues: high.

How­ever, any thoughts of cold cal­cu­la­tion melt away within the first five min­utes as we watch Prince Al­bert (Colin Firth) ad­dress a packed Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, his bot­tom lip trem­bling as the speak­ers am­plify and re­ver­ber­ate ev­ery syl­la­ble that stum­bles from his mouth.

His wife, Princess El­iz­a­beth (the fu­ture Queen Mum, played by He­lena Bon­ham Carter), looks on with a heavy heart while the em­pa­thy of movie- go­ers soars to the strato­sphere.

Todd Hop­per’s pic­ture is an elo­quent and sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, an­chored by the ten­ta­tive kin­ship and whip-smart ban­ter of Firth – a shooin for a Best Ac­tor Os­car – and Ge­of­frey Rush’s un­con­ven­tional speech ther­a­pist Lionel Logue.

The fact that most of us fear and loath pub­lic speak­ing – whether we stam­mer or not – only adds to our in­vest­ment in Prince Al­bert’s plight, which takes on even more sig­nif­i­cance when elder brother, the brat­tish Prince Ed­ward (Guy Pearce), chooses the twice-di­vorced Wal­lis Simp­son over the throne.

In many ways a con­ven­tional men­tor-stu­dent tale (think Good Will Hunt­ing, but higher up the food chain), The King’s Speech is de­fined by the scenes of Firth and Rush at work, which grow more ten­der as ‘‘Ber­tie’’ opens up his life and thoughts to Logue.

The movie is well-sup­ported by beau­ti­ful, sub­tle mo­ments of the two men at home with their fam­i­lies.

There isn’t much to Logue be­yond rogu­ish Aussie charm and ser­vice to Prince Al­bert/King Ge­orge VI, but with Firth’s char­ac­ter try­ing to find his voice and rec­on­cile the life that’s been thrust upon him – ‘‘this isn’t a fam­ily, it’s a firm,’’ he tells his fa­ther – it doesn’t hurt the pic­ture any.

Both Rush and Bon­ham Carter give warm, lov­ing per­for­mances, but Firth is cer­tainly the king; a mas­ter at con­vey­ing both dig­nity and vul­ner­a­bil­ity un­der fire.

Colin Firth

His mas­ter’s voice: gives a ca­reer-best per­for­mance as the stam­mer­af­flicted Prince Al­bert who later be­came King Ge­orge VI.

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