The King’s Speech Will Leave You Speechless
It’s been 15 years since Colin Firth famously dove into that pond in Pride & Prejudice, and, to some extent, he will probably always be associated with his iconic Mr. Darcy (and his modern-day equivalent in Bridget Jones’s Diary). Evidence: The BBC-provided YouTube video of that scene has more than 1.3 million views, and the miniseries Lost in Austen even paid a rather cheeky homage to it.
While his (to borrow a word from Darcy) ardent female fan base may have followed his career ever since, it’s only been in the past few years that the rest of the world has caught up. Following fun roles in Mamma Mia!, the underrated screwball Easy Virtue and the St. Trinian’s movies (in which he spends most of his scenes swooning over Rupert Everett in drag), Colin Firth earned an Oscar nomination last year for his haunting and heartbreaking work as the title character in A Single Man (which I loved, but don’t advise watching if you’re already having a bad day).
He’s a lock for another nomination this year, if not a win, for his role as King George VI, called Bertie by his family, in The King’s Speech. This true story of King George VI’s lifelong struggle with stammering may not sound like the best fodder for a movie, but the movie excels at being funny, moving and suspenseful in ways that will surprise you. Just like director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin managed to make Facebook seem like the most important, dramatic thing in the world in The Social Network, director Tom Hooper does an incredible job of making the titular speech at the end so compelling and nerve-racking and huge that you will be on the edge of your seat. (If you’re unfamiliar with Hooper’s masterful work at making boring old history super exciting in the HBO miniseries John Adams, get thee to Netflix!) And if you’re scared of anything yourself, whether it’s spiders, flying (like me) or even public speaking, you’ll see yourself in Bertie and be inspired.
Geoffrey Rush plays Bertie’s speech therapist (and, ultimately, dear friend) Lionel Logue and should be a shoe-in for a Supporting Actor win at the Oscars. Helena Bonham Carter takes a break from torturing poor Daniel Radcliffe and instead made me cry as Bertie’s supportive wife, whom most of us know better today as the Queen Mum.
P&P fans will get a kick out of seeing Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer Ehle) as Lionel’s wife, Myrtle, and Mr. Collins (David Bamber) popping up briefly at a play audition, or, as with many English movies, you can play spot the Harry Potter (Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon) and Doctor Who (Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom and Gambon again) actors.
If you always go to the movies with your family on Christmas, skip Yogi Bear and go for The King’s Speech, which will entertain and inspire everyone, not to mention give you bragging rights come Best Picture time. The movie opens in Austin on Christmas Day.