Three storming performances cause a festival smash in rousing period drama courting awards
If one film bolted out of this year’s Toronto Film Festival with an awards-season tailwind up its bum, it was The King’s Speech. A heart-tugger that avoids the musty pitfalls of so many Brit costume dramas, it’s graced by three superb performances: Colin Firth as Albert (aka ‘Bertie’, aka stuttering monarch and father to our current Queen); Helena Bonham Carter as his doting wife Elizabeth (we came to know her as the Queen Mum); and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the oddball Australian speech therapist recruited to help poor King Edward VI get his words out.
Who knew that a tale about efforts to correct one’s tripped upper lip would make for such compelling cinema? Rush may joke about Speech’s antithetical marketing hook (“Two middle-aged men become friends. Don’t splash that across the poster!”) but trust us that Tom Hooper’s film is the thinking man’s bromance, hinging on the class-divide between Firth’s stammering Majesty and Rush’s colonial upstart. “Surely a prince’s brain knows what his mouth is doing?” Logue berates Bertie at one point. “You’re not well-acquainted with royal princes, are you?” Comes the tart reply.
Agenda suggests you grab the odds now on Firth one-upping his Oscar nod for A Single Man. “I would love everything to get thrown at it,” Firth enthuses. “I’ve had a lot of years of people throwing rotten tomatoes. A few baubles would do very nicely.”