Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom/Australia, 2010. See-Saw Films, The Weinstein Company, UK Film Council, Momentum Pictures, Aegis Film Fund, Molinare Investment, FilmNation Entertainment, Bedlam Productions. Screenplay by David Seidler. Cinematography by Danny Cohen. Produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Eve Stewart. Costume Design by Jenny Beavan. Film Editing by Tariq Anwar. Academy Awards 2010. Golden Globe Awards 2010. Independent Spirit Awards 2010. New York Film Critics Awards 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Having suffered from a noticeable stammer for most of his life, the Duke Of York, Prince Albert (Colin Firth) is naturally mortified whenever he is required to deliver speeches to the general public. After years of trying various doctors and specialists who fail to help him, his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) stumbles upon unconventional Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who insists that he is the man for the job. The prince is hesitant at first, balking at Logue’s methods of delving into the royal subject’s personal life and psychological profile, but eventually Logue’s techniques start to take effect and a strange sense of confidence begins to slowly build. When his brother Edward (Guy Pearce) begins to show signs that his newly acquired position on the throne is not to his liking considering he wishes to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, “Bertie” begins to realize that he might become the head of the most powerful nation in the world and, if that is to happen, he will need to instill confidence in his people through the power of his voice. This nuanced, emotionally powerful and delicately performed masterpiece by Tom Hooper works on all levels: it has history, it has humour, it is about the power of friendship and also the negotiations between powerful personalities that must occur if anyone is ever to understand themselves and the people around them. As the eventual King George VI, Firth never ceases to amaze with the many grades of personal revelation he allows this character to have, trapped behind the duties of his royal office while at the same time not exactly a flimsy sap when released of them; this man longs to keep his upper lip stiff, he just needs someone to help him find the willpower. Rush, as Logue, gives the film its heart, playing the failed actor turned speech therapist with all the humour that the film needs. Bonham Carter lends superb support as Queen Elizabeth—just look at her face when she hears her husband’s voice reading Hamlet—bringing not only her mousy charm but her own aristocratic bearing upon a film that is top notch from beginning to end.