December is the beginning of Award Season. While the movies that are released from January to November snag their share of nominations for movie awards, the bulk of the nominations are from movies that are released in December. Some of these movies are seen and known by the general public while others have people scratching their heads saying, “I never heard of that movie,” and are seldom seen, Colin Firth knows something about the latter. Last year he was nominated many times over for his performance in “A Single Man”, but it was hardly a box office hit. This year, Colin Firth is again generating a lot of buzz for his portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech”.
The movie is a historical drama about the King’s personal battle with a stammer he had practically all his life. For those who are unfamiliar with English history, King George VI was the father of the current Queen, Elizabeth. The movie opens at the close of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, the King was The Duke of York at that time and his father, King George V was still alive. The Duke gave a closing speech at that time which was excruciating both for himself and for those in attendance. His wife (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Together Lionel and the King work to resolve the speech impediment.
For those who love the craft of acting this is a movie that says, “This is how it’s done!” All the talk and buzz of the performances of these are well deserved. The movie follows Albert, (the King’s birth name) ascension from Duke, to seeing his older brother, Edward (Guy Pearce) become king, to his own ascension to the thrown when Edward abdicated the crown. The King’s father, George V (Michael Gambon) was anything, but a loving father. It’s easy to see how Albert gained his stammer with the overbearing father that he had. Firth performance is often subtle at times and at other times he utterly explodes. You can see there is a battle going on inside him as a man who was brought up being afraid, but knows he must become a king and lead a nation into another World War.
The scenes between Firth and Rush are the best in the movie. They work off each other really well. The other scenes can get quite boring, or drool in this case. The movie is almost two hours long and sometimes those two hours can be felt! The movie will probably be better appreciated by those who enjoy the art of a movie rather than those who are more attracted to movies that have a lot of action, with quick edits, in 3D inhabited with 2-dimentional characters.
Tom Hooper crafts a well put together piece of work, a worthy follow up to his HBO mini-series “John Adams”. He brings along one of his cinematographers from that project, Danny Cohen, to help capture the action. The film looks beautiful. Alexandre Desplat composes a simple score utilizing the piano most of the time until he brings a bigger score together at the end of the movie.
How well the box office return and what awards, if any, “The King’s Speech” will bring in, is yet to be known. Award season is here and “The King’s Speech” looks to be right in the thick of it. It is rated R for language.