|The King's Speech|
Although I regret not having had a chance to see The King's Speech in its first two screenings at TIFF, I was thrilled to hear that it was selected as this year's winner of the Cadillac People's Choice Award based on festival-goer votes. And I can see why audiences reacted so passionately to the Tom Hooper (The Damned United) film after having seen it now.
The story begins with Bertie (later known as King George VI) being second-in-line to the throne of an ailing King George V. He suffers from a stuttering problem, preventing him from being an effective political leader. With the help of his wife, later known as Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), he winds up receiving the guidance of an unconventional Speech Therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Bertie however, is reluctant to co-operate and Lionel struggles to get him to open-up.
Bertie's brother Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) winds up succeeding to the throne but his love for a twice-divorced woman Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) stirs up a bit of controversy and being adamant in marrying her, Edward winds up foregoing his title as King and Bertie assumes the role. He however, lacks the self-belief to tackle the daunting role. From here, we see Bertie's transition as King George VI, guiding England into World War II - but it is far from a cakewalk for him.
The chemistry between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush here is simply amazing, with Rush masterfully dangling bait in Firth's face to push the story along beautifully. Firth puts forth his best performance (and there have been many great ones) in recent memory and is almost certain to garner yet another Oscar nomination here along with Rush. We buy into Firth's desperation and are there with him in his ultimate transformation as King, hanging onto his every breath and pause in the film's most anticipated moment. Bonham Carter also is fantastic here as a devoted and loving wife, yet further evidence of her brilliance and versatility.
The King's Speech might not appear to be thrilling on-paper, but on-screen it is a stirring journey. The film hits theatres December 10, 2010 via The Weinstein Co. and Alliance Films in Canada. Grade: A