Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Tom Hooper
Running Time: 119 mins
The King’s Speech is a British film about the ascension of King George VI to the throne of the United Kingdom, and his battle with a debilitating stammer as he receives help from a professional in preparation for his role in addressing the nation.
While The King’s Speech certainly deserves credit as an interesting historical drama, as well as for featuring two very strong performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, it’s a film that’s more often than not a little too dry to really make for riveting watching, with inconsistent directing from Tom Hooper that has great moments, but is regularly offset by long, underwhelming periods.
Before I get into that, though, let’s talk about what’s good about The King’s Speech, mostly the performances. While there’s an argument for saying it’s all a little over-the-top, Colin Firth’s performance as King George VI is a refreshing break from type for him, with enough ingenuity and passion behind the character on screen to make him great to watch throughout.
Hitting the beats of a character with a heavy stammer pretty much perfectly (although holding silence a little too long at times), Firth’s performance does the basic job of being a convincing portrayal of a historical figure. However, his jittery passion as he plays a man deeply frustrated with his speech impediment, all the while feeling the weight of an entire country placed on his shoulders, makes him a magnetic lead presence all the way through.
Alongside Firth is an equally impressive turn from Geoffrey Rush, with a delightfully no-nonsense approach to his role as the King’s speech therapist, Lionel Logue. With a brand of humour that brings the most life to the film, Rush is a lot of fun to watch, but his performance still has the depth and drama to never cheapen the story, all the while playing brilliantly alongside Firth.
When it comes to the story, The King’s Speech works really well as a historical drama, with an interesting look behind the doors of Buckingham Palace during one of the Royal Family’s most tumultuous periods in modern history. As a result, if you’re looking for a film to teach you a little bit about the situation in Britain in the lead up to the Second World War, then this film works perfectly.
However, where it falls down is its delivery of real emotional drama, as we follow the King as he strives to overcome his stammer and be the monarch that the country expects of him. It’s a simple story, and while director Tom Hooper provides some stunningly tense moments here and there, the majority of that side of the plot is just far too dry to ever really prove genuinely engrossing.
Again, it’s a historically interesting watch, but when it comes to supporting the characters and forming a strong connection with them, I never felt at all invested in The King’s Speech, instead only grabbed by the excitement of those few moments of genuine dramatic tension.
Overall, then, while I enjoyed The King’s Speech as a historical film, along with the two strong lead performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, it’s a less than stellar drama, with inconsistent directing that features too many dry, underwhelming periods that are further undermined by brief moments of brilliance, all of which is why I’m giving it a 7.4.