Prince Albert [Colin Firth], the Duke of York, has had a stammer as long as he can remember. It’s this stutter that frustrates and embarrasses him. He’s part of the British Royal family and that’s the face of England. It might not hold as much power as in the past but there are certainly charitable and stately responsibilities. Albert’s father King George has attempted to scare him into speaking correctly but nothing works. Colin Firth makes a member of the British Royal family both vulnerable and resilient. Honest and forthright. Insecure and proud. He’s devoted to his family and the crown. His independent-minded wife [Helena Bonham Carter], the Duchess of York, finds an unconventional speech therapist [Geoffrey Rush]. Despite his initial reluctance and haughty airs, he works to truly find his own place amidst Royal history. He understands that he needs to speak to his people during times of war and strife. As their king, his goal is to comfort them.
As The King’s Speech opens, the heir apparent is Albert’s older brother, Edward VIII [Guy Pearce]. After King George V’s death and Edward becomes king he soon abdicates the throne when he insists on marrying his American mistress Wallis Simpson. Prince Albert will become King George VI. The pressure is palpable.
Director Tom Hooper takes what could be a stuffy, buttoned-up story and infuses it with charm and excitement. Finely tuned performances by Firth, Bonham Carter and Rush catapult The King’s Speech into a delightful, exceptional film about persistence and the capacity of the human spirit to overcome diversity.
[this review ran on my site during the film’s theatrical release last year]
Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Ehle
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenplay: David Seidler
Studio: The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment
Running time: 119 minutes
Release Date: April 19, 2011
purchase at Amazon: The King’s Speech