Who's In It: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall
The Basics: Bertie, played by Colin Firth, is the runt of the royal litter. Sure, he's the second son and a Duke and all that, but it appears as though he makes a much better doormat than a leader. His stutter has ruined many a public speech, and he has reached the end of his rope. He's m-m-m-ad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore! His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the help of a wily Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to get to the bottom of the stutter. Little did they know when they began that soon Bertie would become King of England and their country would join World War II.
What's The Deal: This movie took me by surprise--I had no idea that it that would be the most satisfying, affecting buddy movie of the recent past. Rush and Firth dance together effortlessly, bringing to life the kind of relationship between characters that will keep me feeling warm and fuzzy for a long time. The patience and compassion that oozes from Rush juxtaposed against Firth's frustration and vulnerability is spellbinding. When you add in a dash of Bonham-Carter's grace, and sear it in the exasperation of royal family members Guy Pearce and Michael Gambon, you've got yourself a nourishing cinematic meal. And while I am fixing myself a sandwich because I am obviously famished, I will continue to think about how much I loved this movie. Please excuse me.
Not Just a Bunch of Pretty Faces: Technically, this film had me oohing and aaahing. It is completely awash in blue, giving everything a stoic and dignified air that I assume Britain has in real life because they are better than us. The locations are spectacular, and the use of wide angle lenses seem to make the nation of Britain immense and the characters very, very small. Some finely orchestrated camera movement and tight, quick editing perfectly embodies a failure to communicate when the stakes are high. It seems like every department was talking to each other on this film to reach a common goal, which is no small feat.
Ladies and Gentlemen, If I May: I would like to tip the ole cap to Timothy Spall. Here he plays Winston Churchill and has some wonderful moments. There are not many actors in the world who can go from playing Marky Mark's road manager in Rock Star to a rat in Harry Potter, and THEN be one of history's most famous leaders (among countless other roles, of course). Timothy Spall is a treasure and always a safe bet for a great performance. And while I am at it, it's also quite lovely to see Helena Bonham Carter playing a normal lady for once. I always enjoy the wackiness she brings to the screen, but this film reminded me that she's just a really wonderful performer and can do whatever the script calls for. Thank god she wasn't killing any house elves this time.