Powered by Colin Firth's stellar performance as King George VI, who suffered from a debilitating stammering problem, "The King's Speech" is the front runner to win Best Picture as well as Best Actor at this year's Oscars and deservingly so.
The film is an amazing piece of cinema that brings to light the personal struggle of a very public figure and the turmoil that his disability caused him throughout his life. "The King's Speech" is an almost flawless film.
The film begins with Prince Albert, Duke of York (Firth) speaking at the 1925 Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. As he stutters and stammers his way through his speech, the large crowd grows increasingly uncomfortable. Clearly overcome with embarrassment, the prince seeks treatments to cure his stammer, but to no avail.
When he finally declares he's finished seeking help, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the help of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a slightly offbeat speech therapist who refuses to bow to the Prince's demands. Their relationship begins on rough ground, but as the prince opens up about his childhood, the two bond and the treatments begin to take hold.
As the prince begins to make progress, he's called to his father's, King George V, bedside. As the king dies, the prince's brother, the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce) takes the throne as King Edward VIII, but when he commits to marry a divorced American woman Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), he gives up the crown.
Now Prince Albert, Duke of York becomes King George VI and the man with a stammering disability has become the voice of a country. But as he begins to take the steps to officially be crowned Dr. Cosmo Gordon Land, Archbishop of Canterbury (Derek Jacobi) questions Logue's qualifications and insists he leaves.
The following confrontation between the King and Logue leads to the King's realization he's able to speak in a clear voice when his focus is channeled.
His biggest challenge and triumph comes toward the end of the film when he must deliver England's 1939 declaration of war against Germany. Drawing on Logue's calming influence, the King delivers his powerful declaration and affirms his ability to control the throne.
It's not unusual for a film to have one or possibly two powerhouse performance, but "The King's Speech" features three amazing performances from Firth, Rush and Bonham Carter. Firth and Bonham Carter are front runners for an Oscar, and if not for Christian Bale's turn in "The Fighter", Rush would be in the discussion as well.
"The King's Speech" has already picked up Golden Globes for Firth and "Best Ensemble". Also, director Tom Hooper won Best Director from the Director's Guild of America, so the film should be adding some more golden hardware when Oscar night is upon us.
Final Cut: "The King's Speech" is a powerful film with stunning performances from his three leads. "Speech" is a truly moving film that showcases the strength of the human spirit. A must see.
5 out of 5
The King's Speech
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler
MPAA Rating: R for some language
Run time: 1 hr. 51 min.
In theaters now