After the death of his father (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of his older brother (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth), who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England.
With the country on the brink of war, his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), and after a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment that will cure the monarch’s stammer and help him find the voice to encourage his people.
The King’s Speech is everything that a great movie should be.
It tells a good story and it tells it well.
David Seidler’s well-crafted screenplay and Tom Hooper’s sensitive direction transports us back to a not-so-long-ago era of innocence when the world was about to be shattered, once again, by war.
The film, which covers two decades, spends much of its time dealing with court intrigues, primarily involving the affair between Edward VIII (Pearce) and his affair with twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.
However, the spine of this story is the relationship and growing friendship between two men, the future king (Firth) and a commoner (Rush), who helps the ruler overcome his disability and become the inspiration of his nation.
The performances by the entire cast, including Timothy Spall (as Churchill), Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom and Anthony Andrews are perfect. They transform names from out history books into real, multi-dimensional people.
Some writers have commented that The King’s Speech is historically inaccurate, in that it glosses over Edward’s possible Nazi sympathies.
Seidler’s script touches briefly on that issue, but one must remember that this is not a documentary, but a dramatic presentation of actual events. This film is not about Edward. He is merely a supporting player in a story that centers on his brother and Lionel Logue.
Frankly, I think a future film that deals with Edward’s sympathies toward Hitler and his cronies would make fascinating viewing.
The King’s Speech marks one of the very rare times in recent years where my favorite movie of the year has won the Best Picture Oscar.
Perhaps there’s hope for the Academy yet.
The widescreen picture is razor-sharp. There are no noticeable flaws.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound is excellent.
Audio Commentary by director Tom Hooper.
“Making of” featurette with cast and filmmaker interviews.
Q & A with Hooper, Firth, Carter, Claire Bloom and Pearce.
The Real Lionel Logue is an on-camera interview with the speech therapist’s grandson.
Speeches is two of King George’s actual speeches, one on-camera.
This is the best picture of 2010.