Apologies to the readers who have been abuzz with news of the King’s Speech’s rave reviews. Variety’s Peter Debruge opens his review this way:
Americans love kings, so long as they needn’t answer to them, and no king of England had a more American success story than that admirable underdog George VI, Duke of York, who overcame a dreadful stammer to rally his people against Hitler. A stirring, handsomely mounted tale of unlikely friendship starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech” explores the bond between the painfully shy thirtysomething prince and the just-this-side-of-common, yet anything-but-ordinary speech therapist who gave the man back his confidence. Weinstein-backed November release should tap into the same audience that made “The Queen” a prestige hit.
Firth doesn’t just make a British king vulnerable and insecure, he shows the fierce courage and stamina beneath the insecurities that will see him through his kingship. It’s not just marvelous acting, it’s an actor who understands the flesh-and-blood reality of the moment and not its history. It’s an actor who admires his character not in spite of his flaws but because of them.
Rush is absolutely wonderful, and Hooper shoots him with all sorts of angles, lighting and strange positions that makes him look like an alien landed in 1930s London. Nothing much impresses him, and he is supremely confident in his own expertise, even when challenged by a star pupil and his coterie of advisers. He won’t yield an inch.
Carter is a revelation here despite a long career as a leading lady. She makes Bertie’s wife into not just a warm and caring soul but a witty and attractive woman who understands her husband much better than he does himself.