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Grandiose performances propel His Stuttering Majesty to the throne RATING KEY



“The King’s Speech” (2010)

Directed by: Tom Hooper Written by: David Seidler Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce

Rating: It is generally compulsory

that a historical drama such as this begin with the title address, and, at the precise moment His Majesty steps up to the microphone to speak, dissolve to a flashback. In “The King’s Speech,” we open instead on Al- bert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) called upon by his cruel and demanding father King George V (Michael Gambon) to deliver the closing speech at the 1925 Empire Exhibition in Wembley. The irony is that when it comes to public speaking, Albert has a pronounced stammer. Rather than use a cheap, suspense-milking device to transform Albert’s articulatory disorder into a “big reveal,” this otherwise duty-bound film confronts us head-on with sev- eral cringe-inducing spasms. To


holidays. A couple of Republicans are even on board. Walking across that slack line

wasn’t easy. In fact, I never made it all the way across. But that was OK. I kept trying. In my failed attempts I learned some things. I taught myself and my friend new techniques for success, constantly fine-tuning my ap- proach to achieve better results. I ultimately met my goal, relying on past failures and successes to guide me. Maybe that’s what this year was for us. It was a time to take a look at what we’ve been doing well and what we can do better. We need to have hope that these waiting games will pay off, that our contin- ued commitment to LGBT equality will mean the call to love everyone by Christ and other spiritual lead- ers will be fulfilled in our world. As we prepare to celebrate the



further heighten the indignity, each of Albert’s vocal blocks are mocked and prolonged by a nagging echo careening throughout the cavernous hall. With Albert’s Achilles’ heel laid painfully bare, it is safe to com- mence our photoplay. Albert has difficulty com-

municating with the rest of his family, which is odd because it is his dad’s constant berat- ing that seems to exacerbate the stutter. Both desperate for a cure and fed up with quick remedies—cigarette smoking to relax the vocal cords, speaking with a mouth full of marbles — Albert refuses to entertain the services of another yet quack. Were it not for Queen Eliza- beth’s (Helena Bonham Carter) insistence that her husband seek professional help, “The King’s Speech” would have been delivered in pamphlet form. The card above the buzzer

reads simply, “L. Logue, Speech Defects,” yet through this ramshackle door awaits the only man in London capable of palliating the vocals of the tongue-tied once and future inheritor of the throne. Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) joins Firth as the bottom half of this

season, why not reconnect with what it is that brings you hope? Find that church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other house of worship that reminds you there is something larger than yourself, something to believe in that tells you the disappointments of today are only temporary. Let’s begin the new year with a renewed sense of hope that our dedication and com- mitment to equality will prevail.♚

—Joshua P. Romero is the founder and director of Solace, a peer support group for LGBTQ Christians in the coming out pro-cess. He serves as the Faith Issues Representative for HRC San Diego and is involved in the ministry of Missiongathering Christian Church in North Park. Joshua’s also spoken at confer- ences on issues of faith and sexual orienta¬tion. Read the Experience Solace blog



December 17-30, 2010 GAY SAN DIEGO


Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter star in “The King’s Speech.” (Courtesy The Weinstein Company)

“Too bad Mel Tillis wasn’t around back then. Who knows? Maybe he would

have landed a spot as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.”

holiday season’s royal acting duo. It’s a pair of rather showy performances that are bound to set awards voter’s tongues a-wagging.

No one expected the second son of King George V to inherit the crown, but fate has a way of sticking its foot out. When King George died in 1936, his eldest son Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) ascended to the throne only to be ousted three years later due to his carryings-on with a twice- divorced woman about town. His insistence that the American socialite be his bride was too much for the Commonwealth to bear. Edward abdicated and Albert assumed the position of the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

Lionel is a frustrated thes- pian trapped inside a speech therapist’s body and the film’s


There’s a lot of “Ho-Ho- Homo” in this well-balanced production, as well as a few delightfully hateful references to Santa’s “bitch.” Discovering that Claus is a true prancer is all gay lightheartedness mixed with a bitter tablespoon of truth. The technical production

(Zachary Zpitzer) was kept to a minimum with the projection design by David Derr, providing funny as well as historic interludes for Solomon to catch his breath. In the end, we are reminded

that giving simply comes from the heart, no matter if the heart belongs to a gay or straight individual. And just like Portia De Rossi

discovered, it’s not so bad walk- ing out of the closet. Santa and Portia both found comfort in their same-sex spouses, contin- ued employment, and hopefully, a happily gay ever after.♚

most engaging passages involve the coach teaching his new player preventative measures. Record your voice while music is blaring through a headset and you’ll be surprised how smooth the finished results sound. Passersby may cry, “Tourettes syndrome,” but sudden out- bursts of uncontrolled profanity are another way to help pave vocal gaps. If nothing else, try elocution set to music. Too bad Mel Tillis wasn’t around back then. Who knows? Maybe he would have landed a spot as a Commander of the Royal Victo- rian Order.

The last half of the film drags on to its foregone conclu- sion as the director’s limited bag of tricks rapidly depletes. Tom Hooper is a veteran of “Masterpiece Theater” pre- sentations and his refinement

(when it comes to everything save the language of cinema) shows. There are plenty of close-ups that allow Hooper’s cast to do his job and scads of tastefully off-kilter compositions that imprison characters in the lower corners of the frame with enough head and side room left over to project a print of “The Queen.” And just because these characters live in a fish bowl is no reason to strap a fish eye lens to the camera whenever the need arises to express menace, anxiety or insecurity. According to Hooper’s aesthetic, when all else fails, go wide-angle! Comparisons to “Pygmalion”

are inevitable. While the perfor- mances are uniformly upper- crust, as presented, “The King’s Speech” owes just as much to Lucas and Yoda as it does Shaw and Higgins.♚

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