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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hail to ‘The King’

    King George VI has two royal pains in his ass. One: Hitler’s army is on his doorstep and poised to decimate Great Britain. Two: the King has a debilitating stutter that causes the syllables of b-b-blitzkrieg to rattle on his tongue like a jammed howitzer.

    But when “”The King’s Speech”” begins in 1925, King George (Colin Firth) is still just Prince Albert, Duke of York — Bertie to his family — and his mind is far from the blitz. In a tranquil London recording studio, a conical microphone hovers above a modest brown desk. From close up, low-angle shots, the instrument looks not unlike a bullet, or the sort of bomb that the Third Reich would pour over Great Britain 15 years later.

    It is the microphone that demonizes him. It is the anxiety of making his voice vulnerable to a nation of thousands that terrorizes him. The problem becomes so severe that the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out professional assistance in the form of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed Aussie actor turned speech coach with no credentials to his name. As Logue helps Bertie find his voice, they also find something much more valuable and crowd-pleasing: enduring friendship.

    There is nothing about “”The King’s Speech”” that does not mesmerize. Firth’s stuttering Bertie is perfectly pathetic but not afraid to explode with repressed anger and British profanity. Rush’s Logue is a shining light in dreary London — endlessly amiable and prone to channeling Shakespearean leads during daily interactions. Even Bonham Carter’s significant eyebrows impress with the subtlety of a rare serious role.

    Behind the actors, the directing/shooting team of Tom Hooper and Danny Cohen creates a regal landscape. Empty space towers over snow-capped castles and foggy London parks. Tall, patterned walls engulf the men moving between them. The space in every scene is so clearly defined that you can feel the acoustics. You can sense the overwhelming weight of Bertie’s anxiety in every shot. But ultimately it is the triumph of friendship, not the weight of expectation, that rules the film.

    In the final scene, an audience applauds. When the credits run, the theater audience follows suit. “”The King’s Speech”” is as uplifting as it is impressive and is a valid nominee for every Academy Award.

    Long live the king.

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