“The King’s Speech” captures a moment when royalty had to go from simply looking good in a crown to actually needing to communicate directly to the people, via the recently popularized invention of radio.
Colin Firth plays Albert, Duke of York, a chronic stutterer who is second in line to the British throne. His inability to give speeches leads his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), to seek help for him in the form of therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Logue, a would-be actor, demands that Albert treat him as an equal if the therapy is to work, something that’s difficult for the to-the-manor-born Albert.
Logue uses diction tricks and psychological insights to attack the prince’s stutter; he finds there may be some anger at the heart of the prince’s problem. The film’s R rating is solely for the language; Albert spews obscenities in an attempt to trick his mind out of stuttering.
Soon, the prince’s situation gets worse: The king dies, and Edward (Guy Pearce), next in line for the throne, is determined to take up with an American divorcee, which may keep him from serving as king. Albert’s time to master his diction draws short. With World War II on the horizon, Albert knows he must provide strength and unity for his people.
Infused with humor and brotherhood, “The King’s Speech” is a reminder of the power of friendship and the meaning of duty.
Tom Hooper (“The Damned United”) directs from a David Seidler screenplay. Firth is likely to receive a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his role as Albert. Rush is in fine form as the quick-witted Logue; Bonham Carter provides stability as the sophisticated Elizabeth.
Well-cast and well-crafted, “The King’s Speech” is one of the year’s best.
— Matthew Price
From Wednesday’s The Oklahoman
“The King’s Speech”
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon.