This is the story of King George VI and the speech impediment that very nearly got the best of him. Seeking elocution lessons that will remedy his stutter, the Duke of York is faced with hopelessness. Nothing appears to be helping. His adoring wife, Elizabeth, is by his side through lesson after lesson. A lesson in which he is told to fill his mouth with marbles and read from a book ends in frustration as he is losing patience and his proverbially marbles.
Elizabeth gets wind of someone she thinks might be able to help her downtrodden husband. The two meet with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and the first session is not exactly a promising one. The Duke of York — Bertie, as he is known to his family — is manifestly troubled by this, but goes back to meet with Lionel anyhow. The connection between Lionel and Bertie is instant. One would imagine them to be the best of friends.
The sessions go on and we are treated to a brilliant training montage in which the audience gets to see gentle improvements and a friendship, too. The good doctor knows all kinds of tricks to cure the stammer. One of my favorites is the singing. When you sing, you don’t stall.
With his father, King George V (Michael Gambon) ailing and likely to pass sooner rather than later, Bertie and his brother Edward (Guy Pearce) brace themselves for the loss and for new rule of the United Kingdom. Edward takes the throne to become King Edward VIII. Shortly thereafter, King Edward VIII abdicates the throne leading to the sudden and reluctant ascension of King George VI.
Facing the dawn of World War II, it is now of paramount importance that Bertie overcome his troublesome stutter and take his place as King by warning his country that they are at war with Germany.
I have to say that of all of the times we see Lionel and Bertie working together, the parade of profanities is one of the most entertaining. There are many times where the audience gets to see the more human, less regal side of Bertie. Take note of the story that he tells to his daughters, the relationship he shares with Elizabeth, and the darling friendship he builds with Lionel. At one point, Lionel tells Bertie that he was sublime after a lesson. I’d say they are both sublime.
Director Tom Hooper has a real gem on his hands here. With immaculate A-plus performances from Colin Firth as Bertie, Geoffrey Rush as Lionel, and Helena Bonham Carter as the exquisite Queen Elizabeth, Hooper was set up for success and ran with it.
Full of classic architecture, great halls, and marvelous costumes, The King’s Speech radiates excellence and has Oscar written all over it.