Th King's Speech
I hope by now some GPers have also seen this film. I saw it on Christmas day and again today and it's a film that wears well with multiple views. Best film of the year? Maybe, and Colin Firth for Best Actor and Geoffrey Rush for Best Supporting Actor are possible.
The film is beautifully acted by a lot of actors you will recognize from Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter--looks like half of England's acting pool wanted in on this one.
Colin Firth is a lot more than a pretty face in this film. Watching him enact the awful stammer that nearly crippled "Bertie" and made him believe that he could never be a king makes one want to cry. But he is so brave, trying as an adult to overcome this disability that generally is not curable after one's teenage years. He's the Duke of York when the film begins and has a profound sense of his place in the world. Yet he bumps up against Lionel Logue (Jeffrey Rush) who consistently and persistently knocks him off his high horse. What matters is that Bertie is so scared and insecure within his family and thus in public that he's willing to take a chance on Logue. And the film unfolds almost solely as the incredible chemistry between these two men and how their complicated, volatile, and eventually trusting relationship changed British history by helping Bertie become King George VI.
Firth is so amazing in this role--watching him mimic stammering (I know folks who stammer, including my own mother, and he gets this so right), and how Bertie/George so courageously confronts his disability and works like a dog to bring it under control, is one of the best roles he's ever played. Rush is just as good playing a failed actor who develops the ability to help folks with speech disabilities entirely through experience with WWI shell-chocked veterans. And then there is Helena Bonham Carter, who has never been a favorite of mine, who is just plain terrific as Bertie/George's wife. She plays Elizabeth as so loving, so ordinary, so willing to act the nurturer, but always with wit and a slightly wry sense of self--Bertie could not have done what he did without her.
My favorite scene in this film is when Bertie has just signed the papers of accession to the throne. He walks down a hall, meets his daughters, and after a long look at Elizabeth, cups her head in his hands and kisses her on the head. He knows what's coming in her future.
There is so much more to say about this film--it's well paced, the settings are convincing, the tension keeps one on the alert even though one knows that Bertie/George will be okay at the end, and the photography is first rate. I"ve seen this film twice and expect to buy it when it comes out on DVD. It's my favorite film of the season.