I've barely left the house all week, working on this essay. I did, however, spare some time to write this review of The King's Speech. A good way to start the new year.
Just how relevant are the Royal family, anyway? On the one hand, you have the Prince of Wales' car being smeared with paint, which some deem more important news than the government's policy on higher education. On the other, there are those gleefully looking forward to the glut of bank holidays coming in early May, uninterested in the reason.
And here we have The King's Speech, a film that, at first glance, seems to be spinning royal themes into awards fodder in a similar way to 2006's hugely successful The Queen, and even though both films share a similar set-up of distant monarchy startled by public matters, then re-aligning their private business before our gaze, it is a rather different beast. One that, even when stripped of its major, monarchic themes, is still a compelling, wholly affecting character drama.
At its heart lies the story of two men of differing social classes forming an enduring friendship. One of the two just happens to be King of the United Kingdom (and the last Emperor of India, to boot).
Prince Albert (Colin Firth), second in line to the throne, yet destined to one day become King George VI, is beset with a stammer, which wouldn't be much of a problem for a member of the Royal family, but the 20th century's rise of radio broadcasts and public speaking renders this more than a private problem. After every avenue seems to have been exhausted, Albert's wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) -we know her as the Queen Mum - pays a visit to the idiosyncratic Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whose unorthodox techniques first and foremost consist of a complete rejection of the stuffy formalities of royal convention.
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