The King’s Speech

Yesterday Kish, Richard and I went to see The King’s Speech.  The film is every bit as good as the critics are saying, and maybe better.  It is the best movie I have seen in years.

The King’s Speech is a simple story about a man who is struggling to overcome what he considers to be a humiliating affliction — a ferocious, disabling stutter — and the connection he forms with a speech instructor who helps him to overcome it.  That story is told powerfully, and well.

But the film is much more than that.  It works as a historical drama because the story is set against the backdrop of the death of a king, the abdication of another, the rise of Nazi Germany, and an increasingly inevitable war that everyone is dreading.  It works on a deeper level as a human story because the stutterer, a royal, has never really formed a human connection with anyone, much less a commoner from Australia who calls him Bertie and insists on being called Lionel.  And it works because the performances — by Colin Firth as George VI, by Geoffrey Rush as the king’s speech instructor, by Helena Bonham Carter as the king’s wife, and by many, many others — are stunningly good.  Firth is astonishingly effective in communicating the frustrations and embarrassments of a stutterer who strives bravely to overcome his condition and who, in the process, learns about himself, and Rush creates an instantly memorable character who insists on an equal relationship and, when that relationship is formed, radiates warmth and support for his pupil.

The result is an intensely moving film that packs a tremendous emotional impact.  Who would have thought that an American audience would find itself pulling for a British king who must give an important speech?  But pull for him we did.  The King’s Speech is a movie that is well worth seeing.