Colin Firth is extraordinary and Geoffrey Rush is electrifying in this engrossing, fact-based historical drama, set in England during the 1930s.
Shy, uptight Albert (Firth), Duke of York, is second in the line of succession after his reckless, flamboyant older brother, Prince Edward (Guy Pearce). That’s fine with him because his lifelong struggle with a paralyzing stammer makes giving a speech close to impossible, causing members of the dysfunctional Royal family to be abusive. But when Edward abdicates (becoming Duke of Windsor) in order to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), a twice-divorced American, Albert is forced to prepare for his Coronation – with Hitler’s invasion of Europe looming on the horizon. Radio has revolutionized how people perceive their monarch so it’s imperative that the future King – soon to be known as George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II – be able to communicate in order to lead Britain, along with Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), into World War II.
Encouraged by his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter), Prince Albert reluctantly engages the services of an eccentric, dubiously credentialed speech therapist and frustrated Australian actor named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who impertinently insists on calling his client by his first name – “Bertie” – rather than the customary “Your Majesty.” Their unlikely, completely unconventional relationship forms the emotional crux of the story as, gradually, Albert gains confidence in his voice and learns to cope with his crippling impediment.
For his poignant performance, Colin Firth is front-runner for the Best Actor Oscar. Geoffrey Rush should be first-in-line as Best Supporting Actor with Helena Bonham-Carter scoring as Best Supporting Actress. Expect literate screenwriter David Seidler and deft director Tom Hooper also to deservedly garner Oscar nominations. And Seidler’s Broadway adaptation is set to open next spring.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to10, “The King’s Speech” is a superlative 10, definitely one of the 10 Best of 2010. Since stuttering affects more than three million Americans, sufferers from this complex disorder are urged to contact The Stuttering Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org); effective treatments are now available.