This is exactly the kind of movie that usually gets nominated for all the Oscars. It's a posh British film filled with foreign actors about a subject that's historical and obscure. The difference with The King's Speech is that this year it's actually great, whereas usually they're boring. This film, which stars Colin Firth (Love Actually, A Single Man) and Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean, Shine), is the true story of King George VI and how he overcame his stammer so he could lead a nation during WWII. This is one of those rare movies that is both funny and moving at the same time. I've often said that pulling off a dramedy is not easy at all. When you make it a period picture it becomes even harder. But director Tom Hooper does it very well; impressive considering that his background prior to this was mostly made-for-TV films. Firth gives one of the finest performances from a leading actor of the year. He not only molds his voice into a mirror sound of what King George VI sounded like, but doesn't make his stammer comical or over-the-top at all. He also makes a character that is complex and interesting by showing us the ugly side of his temper and regal arrogance while also displaying his love for his family and vulnerability to his condition. That's all aided by a great performance from Rush as well. However, I'm not sure it's the role of his career since he's mostly playing himself and just happens to have an amazing script and part. Same thing goes for Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club, Alice in Wonderland), who plays Queen Elizabeth. She's far from disappointing but it's her giving us goodness from a script that offers greatness. That's not to say that this is entirely Firth's film though. He's so good because he's surrounded by those that are making him look so. Any other year, this would be the kind of film to easily walk away with the Oscar for Best Picture, but 2010 was such an amazing year for movies that, by comparison, this doesn't seem like it's up to par with the rest of the best. The film made me laugh, it made me tear up and it even gave me goosebumps a bit, but it just slightly lacked the powerful climax I was hoping for. When you have a movie that builds to one single moment, it better be spectacular. Sadly for The King's Speech it was not only historical with no wiggle room for Hollywood embellishment, but it also involved British royalty, who seem incapable of showing much emotion outside of anger. That doesn't diminish the greatness that this movie is, but it waters down the effectiveness that it could have had.
The King's Speech (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A-
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