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Film Review: The King's Speech

Apr 23, 2011 11:59AM ● By Wendy Sipple

The King’s Speech details King George VI’s speech therapy as he fights his stammering speech. He does this as he becomes King after his father dies and his older brother vacates the throne to marry his girlfriend. To complicate matters further World War II is quickly approaching and the country wants to hear a clear and decisive voice from its leader, not one that hesitates and stammers.

Little does the country know that the man who took the throne by default, not by will, clearly doesn’t want to be king. King George’s speech therapist is Lionel Logue, a failed Australian actor who open a practice without any scholastic training to speak of. However his methods work and a friendship forms between the two men. The movie culminates with King George VI’s famous speech to his country in the face of World War II.

In terms of production value The King’s Speech is top notch. What stood out to me most was the cinematography. Every frame of The King’s Speech is expertly crafted, and ultimately turns a dialog-heavy movie into a visualy interesting movie, not an easy task. Every decision of the framing, lighting and composition of the picture was terrific. The performances in the film were good too. It helps that all the performers involved are the top character actors in the business. Geoffrey Rush turned in the finest performance of the movie in my opinion. Where The King’s Speech falls flat in my opinion is the story itself.

Now I realize that the film is based on real events, however the film’s main focus was on King George VI, and I found him the least likable and least compelling character in the movie. It had nothing to do with Collin Firth’s performance either. King George VI, was an angry, self-centered brat and quite honestly a coward of sorts too. I loved the character of Logue, who was a devoted family man who was just plain likable. I also loved the character of Queen Elizabeth portrayed by Helena Bonham-Carter. She was tough nosed and had a purpose about her. Why couldn’t the movie had followed one of their perspectives? King George VI would have been a truly inspiring story if he had been in the least bit likable. His “I can’t do it” attitude as people tried to help just came across as whiney to me. The movie never really revealed a lot of fight in him, but instead he seemed to have a lot of self pity. 

There were also a lot of odd angles of the story that just struck me funny. I know his speech in the face of war was an important triumph of his career but the reception he receives from his staff upon finishing gave me an ‘icky’ feeling. Even his preparation of delivering the speech seem very self centered considering the dire and serious circumstances that his kingdom was under. I may be foolish, but I hope our leaders don’t get high fives and congratulations after delivering a speech of war. Yes, I understand the it was a bigger deal for him, considering his speech impediment. King George’s speech was about so much more than himself though. I am guessing in real life that King George VI probably understood the gravity of the situation better and the re-enactment of the movie narrowed the focus of its message for easy consumption of its audience, or at least I hope that’s the case.

While The King’s Speech deservedly collected several awards on behalf of its production values and strong performances, I can’t say it was one of my favorite movies. I can appreciate it for its craft but it lacked in entertainment value for me in a general sense. Comparing it to other historical royal dramas I can safely say that The King’s Speech was indeed one of the best of that group however.

FILMS LIKE THE KING'S SPEECH:  Good Will Hunting, Regarding Henry and As Good As It Gets

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Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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