Critic’s Corner: “The King’s Speech” review

Sarah Wandor

Critic’s Corner Columnist

“The King’s Speech,” released in 2010, is based on the true story of Prince Albert, later King George VI, and his struggle with his stammer and his ascension to the throne.

After a failed public speech by the prince, his wife Elizabeth seeks the assistance of a speech therapist and actor Lionel Logue to help her husband speak. The film follows Lionel’s training of Prince Albert, their growing friendship and the prince’s struggle of not only working through his stammer but also the struggles of his personal life and becoming king of England.

The introduction of the film is well written as it presents one of the main characters very well and shows just what he is facing and the struggles he is going through.

Prince Albert, Duke of York — or Bertie as his family calls him — attempts to give a speech at the closing of the British Empire Exhibition, which is to be broadcasted on the radio. However, he addresses the crowd with a strong stammer and struggles to keep his composure. This presents to the audience right away that Bertie is struggling to speak and builds the entire film off of this scene.

The scene also shows the amount of pressure Bertie feels, not only from those around him, but from the people of England as well and the audience can clearly see that pressure weighing down on him when he tries to speak.

The casting of the film was excellent; everyone portrayed their characters very well. Helena Bonham Carter portrayed Queen Elizabeth very well by showing the strength she had to continue looking for to help Bertie, the support she was to him and how much Bertie’s stammer impacted her.

In the beginning of the film, you can see on her face that watching her husband trying to speak pains her and how she tries to keep it in. Carter did a beautiful job and played the queen with grace.

Geoffrey Rush is incredible, and his portrayal of Lionel Logue is brilliant. He brings such energy to the character and even from the first moment the audience sees him on screen, he captures the attention and brings such life into the film.

Rush is incredibly expressive both in his voice and physicality and this is shown when he first meets the Duke and Duchess of York. The audience can tell from the beginning that Lionel is a very down to earth and honest person who loves Shakespeare and is generally out-going. He does such a great job of bringing what is on page to life and then some, and makes the movie very enjoyable.

Colin Firth had the hardest part to play in King George VI, because of the subtleness of his character and his stammer. However, Firth was incredible despite the difficulties he faced. His stammer seemed real and made it seem like he truly did struggle with it; whenever he spoke, he looked like he was trying his best but the words just wouldn’t come out.

Bringing a character to life and having the voice inflection can be difficult but having to stammer naturally as well can be even harder. Yet Firth did this so well and he won an Oscar for best actor for his performance.

Firth’s facial expressions were also very good. They showed the pain, nervousness, fear and panic that King George would have been feeling at various moments.

At the beginning of the film before he gives his speech at the closing of the British Empire Exhibition, the fear Bertie is feeling is written on his face but also in his eyes; the audience can see it as he approaches the microphone.

Firth also shows the frustration and despair Bertie would have been feeling when he tries to speak — but can’t without stammering — so incredibly well that the audience can feel it. Firth’s portrayal of Bertie was incredible and is deserving of high praise.

The writing throughout the film is spectacular. It flows very nicely and contrasts the differences in personalities between the characters very well, especially between Bertie and Lionel.

Throughout the film, the audience sees the differences in how they talk and their general nature. Bertie is much more proper, being of royalty, and isn’t very open when he talks. Lionel, on the other hand, is very open and tends to be outspoken at times with his honest nature.

The way the script was written creates an incredible dynamic between the two and is shown in the scene when they first meet and in the sessions they have. It brings such a life and feel to the film that is truly amazing and so well done.

The way Bertie’s last speech of the film is put together is incredible. From the way the king is speaking and the music, they blend in such in a way it draws the audience in all the more and has them captivated. The music is soft at first, as is Bertie’s voice, but both build together and rise to their height in a complete synchrony that is mesmerizing.

The camera shots of Bertie, his wife, Lionel and the audience add to the scene making it all the more meaningful and holding more weight as you see the one trying to give the speech, the one helping him and the people who are listening; it makes the scene more dramatic, inspiring and memorable.

“The King’s Speech” is definitely worth high praise and is more than well worth seeing. It presents a man’s struggle and how he overcomes it and becomes the voice of a country during a time when the people desperately looked for one. From the extremely talented cast, the writers and the director, it is a beautiful and touching film that everyone should watch during their lifetime. It truly is an unforgettable film worthy of high praise.