I had a choice, this weekend, between seeing Black Swan and The King’s Speech at our little local two-screen theater. I’m sure you can all guess which of those won out (although I do want to see Black Swan at some point–I heard it’s great). I’m very happy to report that I was not at all disappointed, not that I expected to be. I mean, come on, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush? It’s almost impossible for that movie to suck.
This movie’s been getting a lot of hype lately, and it deserves it–Firth, especially. As Bertie, the future King George VI, he’s got that stutter down so well it was actually physically painful to watch the opening scene, where he’s trying desperately to give a speech at Wembley Stadium in 1925. Over the course of the film he sings about his horrible childhood (yes, that’s right, sings), curses like a sailor (therapeutically, of course), jokes cutely, and (spoiler alert!) triumphs as king. Along for the ride are Helena Bonham Carter, returning to period-drama form as Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mum. She’s delightfully uncreepy here–I wish she’d do movies that didn’t involve Tim Burton more often), Michael Gambon as Bertie’s terrifying father, George V, Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill, and even Guy Pearce as royal quitter Edward VIII. It’s really Firth’s movie, though (not to say Geoffrey Rush isn’t awesome in it–he is), and I really hope he gets full kudos at the Golden Globes, and later at the Oscars.
Some other thoughts:
Die-hard fans of 1995’s Pride and Prejudice will no doubt be happy to see Firth briefly reunited with Jennifer Ehle (and what happened to her? It’s like she did P&P and disappeared, wheras he became this big star). For those paying attention, there’s an additional bonus: David Bamber, who played Mr. Collins, has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment as an amateur theater director. On a side note–is this the first time Ehle and Firth have been on screen together since P&P? I think it might be.
This movie is further proof of the rule that there are about 30 British actors who regularly work, so you see them again and again, all the time. Aside from Gambon and Spall, who are both in almost everything, Derek Jacobi (Brother Cadfael) makes an appearance as the rather odious Archbishop of Canterbury, and Anthony Andrews wanders in for a moment as Stanley Baldwin.
Edward and Wallis are both repellent–he’s pathetic and whipped to an unseemly degree, and she’s demanding and gross. She’s also played by a British actress who shows that it’s not just Americans who are capable of really mucking up an accent. It’s the only mar on the movie, from what I can see.
Please, please, please let there be a blooper reel on the DVD of this movie. I’ll bet they’re hysterical, and it’ll balance out the serious history-lesson shorts they’re sure to feel honor bound to include.