by Susan Cohen
While many of you were unwrapping presents and eating the cookies Santa left behind this past Saturday, my family and I were celebrating Christmas in typical Jewish fashion: with a movie and Chinese food. It's something we've done for the last four years; the line for tickets is always short and there's usually a bunch of Oscar-buzzed films to choose from.
It was a little harder to pick a film this year than it has been in the past, since I had already seen True Grit, my parent's number one choice. We initially thought about seeing The Fighter, but my dad poo-pooed that idea, not being in the mood to see a movie about a dysfunctional family (and personally, I wasn't in the mood to see a crackhead). We eventually decided on The King's Speech, which is playing locally at a bunch of local theaters.
Since the film's already been out, we're not running a formal review, but I figure I could give you a half-assed one.
The King's Speech seems to be the most fussed-about film of the season, and frankly, it deserves all the chatter. It stars Colin Firth as the future King George VI (or Bertie to his friends and loved ones), the stuttering younger son of King George V. With the increasing popularity of a funny little invention called the radio, it becomes necessary for the royal family to be as vocally regal as they seem in photographs, a new pressure that they're not yet used to. When Bertie's brother abdicates the throne to marry a twice-divorced American woman, and with an inevitable second World War quickly approaching, Bertie's forced to confront his speech impediment in front of his entire country. He does so with the help of his speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Like any film about someone overcoming something, there's plenty of scenes of bickering between Bertie and Logue. They fight and make up, fight and make up, as Bertie's wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) watches supportively from the sidelines. Firth has a knack for playing men who seem prickly to the untrained eye, but are very sensitive deep down. His Bertie is a sympathetic character, but it almost has nothing to do with his stutter. I mean, yes, it sucks for him that he has a stutter, but it's something you can look beyond. On the one hand, he's an ordinary man who loves his wife and children. But he's had to spend his whole life under the pressures of being a royal and living up to a certain standard, with his only small consolation being that he was the second heir and may never have to be king. And then his brother throws him under the bus.
Of course, Rush is terrific as well, and his character turns what may have been a dry historical piece into something wryly humorous. All the buzz is paying off, as every seat in our Miami movie theater was filled (mostly by octogenarians). You should see this now, because if you don't, when they start handing out statuettes, you're going to wish you had.