Here is a film whose destiny is to gather a lot of statuettes on the Oscar night this year, and this may be one of its problems in my eyes. The combination between a personal drama doubled by a physical or psychological disability (the stammering of the duke of York to become King George VI of England) which allows for great principal role performances and the obsession of the big screen with the British dynasty may lead for the third time in the last two decades for royalties get an Oscar ovation. It is not that ‘The King’s Speech’ lacks moments of good cinema, a good dramatic build-up and a human touch but somehow it is too much on the side of the predictable to my taste.


Being duke of York is probably the most frustrating position on the planet maybe with the exception of being VP of the United States of America. You are one inch apart from the peak of the Universe, and yet most people in your kingdom or republic may not know your face. The spotlights fall so close and you are still in the shadows. Exceptional events do happen sometimes and the second-in-line is pushed ahead and needs to take responsibility. This is what happened with the duke of York who became king at the abdication of his brother Edward, just at the time the world and his country where to face the biggest challenge in history at the outbreak of the second world war. And yet, his historical fight was also a personal fight, as he head to overcome his stammering, a huge handicap at a time when leaders’ speech inspired nations and the relatively new media of radio broadcast was the most efficient propaganda instrument in the war.

(video source ClevverMovies)

The best moments of the film were for me the human dimensions that the characters of Bertie (King George VI) and Elizabeth received under the acting of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter. I am no fan of the British royals, but I ended by really sympathizing with their representation in the movie. The personal fight of Bertie, his relation with the commoner family of his speech expert (Geoffrey Rush which is no less than wonderful as we can always expect from him) and the way he ends by facing the call of history at the right moment are well filmed and described. I liked less the way the historical context is described, with characters like king Edward or Winston Churchill reduced to their stereotype. There is one character though which draw my attention and this was Neville Chamberlain in a very exact supporting performance by Roger Parrott. I could not avoid thinking that this complex character and the dilemma of appeasement that marked his political career with the disastrous consequences did not yet get any screen version fit to the dimensions of the historical figure.