Period costume dramas about actual historical figures, who overcome personal obstacles and achieve greatness, are no longer favored, and are rarely produced for the big screen any more. When a movie like "The King's Speech" emerges with excellent notices, achieves popularity with audiences at festivals such as Toronto, and boasts top-notch writing delivered by actors of proven excellence (also including Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter), it feels like a winner.
Maybe it's the Colin Firth factor. As his career matures, the films he makes carry an aura of importance. I thought "A Single Man" was the best film I saw last year, and Firth's performance was brilliant, the best work he had ever done. Now, his attachment to a film makes me pay attention. Firth's involvement in a film has become something like the Meryl Streep stamp of quality.
To prepare for my eventual review, I will offer a short series of posts here about King George VI: the stammer that caused him embarrassment, and difficulty addressing the public; the therapy which forms the central drama of the film; his heroic speech to England on the eve of war; and the special identification the screenwriter had with the King.
I hope the film lives up to its early praise; it would be great to have a "prestige" costume drama become a crowd-pleaser that has a fighting chance against pre-packaged blockbusters at the Oscar derby.