The King’s Speech Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 8:02 pm,

the kings speech review The Kings Speech Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick Reviews The King’s Speech

Since it’s debut at the Telluride Film Festival back in September, The King’s Speech has been steadily racking up award nominations as well as several wins, including: The Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture and The Golden Globe for Best Actor (Colin Firth).

There’s no doubt that The King’s Speech – a historical drama about King George VI’s pre-World War II  rise to power – is the type of film award shows love to celebrate. However, despite being a competent and beautiful film, is director Tom Hooper’s movie too stuffy to provide mainstream moviegoers with a satisfying trip to the box office?

Fortunately, the answer is no. Despite critical acclaim, some Academy Award-nominated historical dramas never get a wide release – in large part due to their limited appeal to the greater movie-going population. The King’s Speech, however, is an intelligent film with beautiful direction by Hooper, that manages to offer a charm and sense of humor that even audiences at the megaplex will enjoy (not just the local independent theater).

If you’re still unfamiliar with the story of King George VI, or subsequently The King’s Speech, here’s the official synopsis:

After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle.

Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING’S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice.

As mentioned in the summary, the entire movie revolves around the importance of voice. With the recent invention of the wireless radio, as well as the growing threat of Nazi Germany, King George VI is forced into a unique moment in history – where a King’s radio booth is suddenly more important than his throne.

Despite being the type of role typically labeled as “Oscar-bait,” Colin Firth’s performance as the stammering Prince Albert (George VI) is an honest portrayal that never oversteps the boundary between interpretation and caricature. While Firth’s stammering is certainly painful to listen to, it’s clear this is Hooper’s desired effect – and the director balances Albert’s stammers, as well as his succeeding frustration and anger, with a charming performance by Geoffrey Rush as the Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue.

The Kings Speech Colin Firth The Kings Speech Review

Like many dramas that revolve around a “burgeoning friendship” dynamic, many of the best moments in The King’s Speech are centered around the dynamic between the two would-be friends as Logue attempts to draw the stubborn Prince Albert down from his high horse, in order to truly address the root of the problem (Albert’s fear of being King). In the process, the audience is treated to a number of great moments: some humorous, some painful, and others that are genuinely inspiring.

That said, at times a few of these moments can follow the three act historical drama a bit too closely – resulting in several predictable character arcs. Without giving anything away, the end of the first and second acts are each punctuated with some misunderstanding or regression that tears at Lionel and Albert’s friendship. Surely the pair had their ups and downs in real life, and the framework doesn’t ruin the film or even take much away from the viewer’s enjoyment, but, because of where they’re placed, these moments end up coming across as the contrived movements of the plot, instead of the organic transition of the characters.

It’s a fine line, and certainly won’t bother most moviegoers, but in these moments it was easy to see the screenplay for The King’s Speech shining through a bit too clearly on the silver screen.

The Kings Speech Geoffrey Rush The Kings Speech Review

However, despite the over-obvious movie structure that, on occasion, gets forced onto the historical events depicted in the film, The King’s Speech is a terrific film with great performances by the cast, as well as an inspiring, not to mention charming, story about a man who not only finds his voice, but finds his place as one of the most important leaders in history.

If you’re still trying to make up your mind, check out the trailer for The King’s Speech below:


Also, if you’re interested in hearing the King’s speech, you can listen to King George VI’s actual September 3rd 1939 address to his people from Buckingham Palace – HERE.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know what you thought of the film.

The King’s Speech is currently playing in wide release.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. Wow, you guys are just now reviewing this? I plan on seeing it this week, it’s been at the theater a couple of blocks away for like a month now.

    • Did you want us to do a review or didn’t you want us to do a review? Because we did this review pretty much based on people asking us to do this review.

      So “thanks for getting this review up” works just as well as what you said :-)

      • Haha, I didn’t mean it to sound like that. I just thought I had missed it when it was released last month.

        • People have been asking for it so we figured better late than never. :)


  2. I saw this film over the weekend and was impressed by the story and the cast. I’d agree with the 4.5 out of 5 and hope this will be the surprise victor on Oscar night.

  3. Thanks Kofi……I cannot recommend this film more. Hands down my favorite of the year. (2010.)
    ” The King’s Speech, however, is an intelligent film with beautiful direction by Hooper, that manages to offer a charm and sense of humor.” Kofi Outlaw
    Brilliant. And thank you for the treat of the orginal speech.

    • Well you’re welcome. I never get tired of praise. Though in this case it was our stellar hombre Ben Kendrick who did the review ;-)

      • Brilliant Ben!

  4. Thanks for finally reviewing this.

    However, this was one of my most anticipated films of the fall and I was dissapointed when I finally saw it. Wish I could share your enthusiasm.

  5. I’ve been waiting for the theatre I work at to get this movie, but everything I’ve heard is the same as your review Ben. Its a great movie with a great message.

    Can you tell me, why is it rated R?

    • Hi,
      I wondered that myself before I saw it. It is just because of the F-word. Logue asks if he stutters when he swears and he says no, so he has him to swear to loosen up & to think it in between words instead of hestitate. That’s the only reason!! Otherwise it’s like something you’d see on PBS. It was great though, especially the climax.

      • And don’t forget the singing. :-D

    • Tell them to get the movie in there so you can review it for your blog! :)

      The reasons mention for the R-rating are correct, though, it seemed to me that they played it so his vocabulary was more gibberish than repetitive swearing.

      • @ Jason: Just got a call from my boss. WE’RE GETTING “THE KING’S SPEECH” THIS FRIDAY! Talk about perfect timing!

  6. Coming Next Fall… The Kings Speech 2: Speak Harder in 3D!

    • You won’t be laughing when they start making foreign films with 3D subtitles, funny man. ;)

      • @ Jason: I can see people trying to look around whats coming at them to see the words on the screen! Ha-ha.

    • LOL

  7. The King’s Speech, is, in my opinion, on of the best films in probably the last 20 years. I just adored it. I remember asking you guys to review it when I commented on the Blue Valentine review you did.

    One thing, though… at the beginning of the review, it should say “guild” rather than “gild”.

  8. While the performances were Oscar-level, I was a bit bored myself with the movie. Don’t get me wrong, the relationship between Bertie and Logue was good and sometimes humorous, but there were times when I just wanted them to do something, anything. Maybe I was in my action film mode, I don’t know. But that final speech was truly inspiring. I think I was actually on the edge of my seat silently cheering the king on. You could see the trials in Bertie’s eyes while trying not to stamper; and Logue’s urging him on was priceless. For that alone I would give it 3.5/5.

    • It was a period bromance.

  9. This movies premires here in Norway 11th of February. Me and 9 friends are soooo gonna watch this on the premiere. Been waiting for it ever since i first saw the trailer last autumn.

    GREAT review by the way :-)

    Keep up the extremely good work at Screen Rant!

  10. Firth should run away with Best Actor and I still think Bonham Carter has a chance at Supporting Actress despite Leo winning both Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes. If this wins Best Picture over Social Network (those 2 seem like the only likely candidates to win) I would be happy, but I’m still pulling for The Fighter to pull it out.

  11. Great review Ben, your thoughts were very similar to my review.

    I thought that the performances really carried the movie, as well as every time Firth and Rush were onscreen together. I also 100% agree with your qualm that the formulaic structure is a bit obvious.

    It is a great movie overall. 4 out of 5 stars.

  12. Sorry, typo… I meant to say that is is “one” of the best films in the last 20 years.

  13. Typo again, “it” is one of the best films in the last 20 years.

  14. I’m not feeling it.

  15. A few people I know have already seen it and are raving about it, so that plus this review might have me checking it out next week. :-)

  16. I don’t know if it is out yet over here in the Netherlands, either way, I will certainly be seeing this one. This is exactly the kind of movie that tickles my love for history (it’s so bad that I started studying it at university). :P

  17. i went to see this movie with my family and my parents and my sister were amazed. i was too amazed, but i didnt want to tell them because it wasnt my type of movie. im such a bad kid

  18. What were the words on the screen at the very end? Sort of a synopsis, I think. The white words on the black screen were too small for me to read and I really want to know what they read. I just made out that Lionel and Bertie remained friends. If I knew who to write to to tell them that the letters were ridiculously small when a whole screen was available to them, I would. Thanks to anyone who remembers. Please answer to my e-mail address.

  19. never been one of periodic films, but after all the praise this film got it was a must see, so watched it and was shocked at how great it was. Loved every minute of it, wasn’t bored once all the way through it and i was expecting to fall asleep. Colin firth is great in the lead and helen botham carter is supreme as the queen’s mother. Great for english film’s and good to learn our history.
    Don’t care what kinda film fan you are this is a must see and you will see why it won the oscars.

    Rated it 4/5 would be 5/5 but i wouldn’t buy it on dvd and thats how you get 5/5 from me.

  20. Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth was once a leisure account it.
    Look complex to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?