Here's a film I'm dying to see: "The King's Speech." For I'm a fan of all of the lead actors--Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi; as well as of the director Tom Hooper (who helmed HBO's "John Adams). Our film reviewer Harry Forbes found it all good drama, too. His review begins:
King George VI—affectionately known as Bertie and father of the present-day Queen Elizabeth II—had a stammer so pronounced that public speaking was for him pure, unadulterated agony. His relationship with his speech therapist, Lonnie Logue, an eccentric Australian who taught him to cope with this infirmity, is the unlikely but highly compelling subject of “The King’s Speech.” Director Tom Hooper’s beautifully crafted film transcends the musty historical genre, thanks to a fine script by David Seidler and superlative, award-worthy performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as upper-crust reluctant pupil and his middle-class unorthodox teacher.
Though older than Bertie would have been at the time, Firth is well cast, and heart-wrenchingly conveys the visceral panic of facing a microphone, as his position increasingly required him to do. Firth skillfully makes the tortuous silences between each hard-earned phrase positively squirm-inducing.
The narrative begins with Bertie’s father, King George V (Michael Gambon), in full domineering throttle, and his elder brother David (Guy Pearce), as the reluctant heir to the throne. Bertie is to give a speech at Wembley Stadium, but the appearance is an embarrassing disaster.
When his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, comes upon Logue’s name in a classified ad, she travels incognito to the cozily dingy digs Logue shares with his loving wife (Jennifer Ehle) and their sons. Even when Elizabeth ultimately reveals her identity, Logue—only momentarily nonplussed—insists that if he is to treat her husband it must be done on the premises. When the skeptical Bertie arrives at the flat sometime later, Logue lays down further conditions. They must be on a first-name basis. (“It’s better if we’re equals,” Logue explains.)
The beauty of Seidler’s script is that the relationship does not play out on predictable lines. Even with each breakthrough, there is a realistic tension between these two very different men. Indeed, after that first encounter, Bertie storms out, stating firmly that Logue’s methods are not for him. But after another disastrous attempt at a radio speech, he reconsiders. He and his wife humbly return to Logue, insisting they will just work on “the mechanics,” eschewing the psychoanalysis and Logue’s other questionable methods. Bertie declares that he will see Logue in a week’s time. “I shall see you every day,” Logue retorts firmly, and prevails.