Watched May 07, 2012
Tony Black’s review:
I always get suspicious of movies termed 'Oscar bait' because how often do the Academy Awards truly bear out quality these days? And while I'm not sure this deserved to quite clean up the way it ended up doing last year, there's no doubt this is an excellent Royal biopic detailing a King often not afforded the spotlight and a relationship many, such as myself, had no idea was so crucial to the Queen's father.
Colin Firth, it has to be said, did earn his Oscar - he's magnificent as Bertie aka the King, portraying a deeply complex man in a regal, staunch yet sympathetic and quietly warm way. He also quite brilliantly conveys the agony of a crippling stammer many actors would find impossible to do; it may well end up being a career-best performance. Equally on fine form is Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist, a laid-back yet confident and witty counterpoint to Bertie's forced seriousness - he too deserved any awards that came his way as he plays off Firth extremely well. Given this is a character drama, casting matters - and director Tom Hooper fills out the supporting players with some strong turns by Helena Bonham-Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall, all playing figures you may recognise with typical skill. Around them Hooper lets the script breathe, allowing a dry wit to seep through around the edges of personal tragedy that pour from the piece - showing well how emotionally distant the Royal Family were in this age, and revealing Bertie as a man who never truly wanted to be King.
As I say, I'm not sure it warranted quite seven Oscars but it's hard to deny the strength of acting on display here from some of Britain's finest, not to mention being a beautifully shot, extremely interesting look into the life of a slightly forgotten monarch, tethered by a central friendship going beyond titles and duties that, by the end, you'll be glad to have witnessed.