I never got the chance to review Colin Firth’s “The Single Man” last year. That film brought Firth his first nomination for Best Actor. It also confirmed what many have known for years – Colin Firth is an A+ talent. It is on the coattails of “A Single Man” that many waited for Firth’s next choice, “The King’s Speech.”
Directed by Tom Hooper, this sure-fire best picture nominee follows the journey that Colin Firth’s would-be king takes to cure his horrific speech impediment. After trying a variety of approaches, his faithful wife and future Queen Mum, (Helena Bonham Carter), enlists the aid of a non-traditional speech doctor, expertly portrayed by Academy Award Winner, Geoffrey Rush.
Anyone with a sense of royal history knows how the story ends. Of course, Firth overcomes his demons to become a more confident and consistent speaker. The joy of the film, however, is the way in which it showcases a beautiful friendship between two adult males. So few films showcase a modern and mature male relationship. Often times, films focus on old male friendships as former frat boys or loser husbands on the stray. “The King’s Speech” truly highlights what each of these men bring each other. In any other year (without Christian Bale) Geoffrey Rush would walk away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. His portrayal is sensitive, dignified, and kind. He is a fantastic character, and the movie picks up serious steam each time he is on screen. When he’s gone, the movie suffers.
Helena Bonham Carter will likely receive another nomination for her work. She is excellent in a small, yet pivotal role. If there is one complaint about her, it is simply that she isn’t given a ton to work with within the structure of her role.
This is an actor’s piece for Firth. He is stunning in his portrayal and brings his normal level of class and dedication to the role. He is a shoe-in for Best Actor. As is the case with that particular award, he will be rewarded for both his work in “Speech” and “A Single Man.” He is truly a revelation in the role, in the same way that Helen Mirren owned “The Queen.”
What separates “The Queen” from “The King’s Speech” is economy. Where “The Queen” moved at a deliberate, yet natural pace, “The King’s Speech” can get a bit long winded whenever Rush isn’t on the screen. The film spends about a third of its time dealing with the family struggles that Firth’s prince endures. Although it provides great background and discovery, it causes the film to lag at times. That is a small (but present) criticism, in an otherwise lovely film.
Expect plenty of Oscar noms in the technical categories like costumes, score, writing, and even director. However, at the end of the day, it’s Firth’s show. As the audience, we are simply lucky enough to be invited to watch a superb actor’s showcase, at the top of his game. No complaints about that.
Wayne Bell is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 for his Master’s Degree and you can almost always catch him at Little Bread Co. or Hammontree’s. For more of Wayne’s contributions, visit his author page.