The King’s Speech is an absolutely stunning work of film-making. It is at times funny, at times heartbreaking. It is a stunning achievement that will keep you glued to the screen and wishing that the film was longer.
When Bertie (Oscar winner Colin Firth) is confronted by the newfangled inventions of the radio and microphones, he seeks out, with the help of his wife (Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter), a speech therapist (Oscar nominee Geoffrey Rush) to help him with his stammer. Guy Pearce also stars as Bertie’s older brother, King Edward VIII.
When King Edward VIII abstains the throne for the affections of a divorced American woman, Bertie (also known as King George VI) is propelled to the throne during the beginnings of Britain’s involvement in World War II.
Directed with a deft hand by Tom Hooper (John Adams 7-part mini-series), The King’s Speech focuses on the friendship that forms between the future King of England, Bertie, and his speech therapist Lionel Logue played by Geoffrey Rush. It makes mention of Hitler and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, but stays firmly focused on the two men. It is a fascinating historical drama and rumination on the nature of friendship and how societal class can collapse between two people in the face of said friendship.
There is not a weak performance in the film. Colin Firth gives a stunning performance as Bertie, the future king who is filled with fear and has stammered since he was a child. Geoffrey Rush also gives a stunning performance as Lionel Logue, a speech therapist with no credentials whatsoever. His character is a failed actor who learned his trade in Australia after World War I treating shell shocked troops. Helena Bonham Carter gives a subdued, but no less stunning, performance as Bertie’s wife and the person who gives him the courage to face his fears.
The video quality on the blu-ray is very nice. I did notice a couple of scenes that appeared slightly digitized and with quite a bit of grain. It was not overwhelming, but it was slightly distracting in such a solid film. I would assume that this was because this was a fairly cheap film to make, but that is just an assumption. Other than those couple of scenes, the video looked very good.
The sound quality really shines here. Since this is an historical drama, the surround sounds are more subdued and not as prevalent as would be the case of an action or horror film. The dialogue is very strong and is never lost under other sounds such as music or action. The dialogue is easy to hear and understand. The music and supporting sound effects are never overpowering. This is a great sound mix for a dramatic film. Very impressive.
The special features, on the other hand, are not that special. There is a commentary track, a 30 minute making of documentary, an interview with the grandson of Lionel Logue, and a couple speeches from the real King George VI. It was nice to have the actual speeches, but the other features are just kind of throwaway.
Overall, this is a fairly decent package for a great film. I have seen this film a couple times now, and I have enjoyed it every time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you think the description is something you wouldn’t be interested in, take my word for it and give it a shot. A well made film is a well made film.
Film **** out of ****
Blu-Ray ** out of ****