The King’s Speech
January 2, 2011
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The British have a way with making a great biopic about one of their one. Last years The Young Victoria was further proof of that. Here, we see the Duke of York, a regal man with a crippling disability, his stutter. Through the direction of Tom Hooper, we get a glimpse into the world of speech impediments.
Colin Firth plays The Duke of York, son of King George V, who despite every expert around, can’t rid himself of his stutter. From the gorgeous establishing shots of the microphone to his first actual attempt at public speaking, the first couple minutes show the depth of his disability. When his wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter, finds an unlikely speech defects teacher, she is keen to have him give it a try. The teacher is played by the remarkable Geoffrey Rush, providing us a look into the Duke’s world and provides the brief moments of humor. The balance between the Duke and Lionel Logue (Rush) becomes one of friendship and confidence. Despite resisting Logue’s methods, significant progress is made.
This film, beginning to end, is a treasure to behold. In a year when there are very few perfect films, this one stands out of just such a movie. The film uses speech as its theme in lieu of making it the only thinking moving the plot. Drawing from actual events, the urgency that the Duke has towards the end of the movie remains palpable as he struggles to overcome his obstacles.
Watching this reminded me of the HBO film Rocket Science, where a high school boy with a serious stutter joins the debate team. Both films talk about the patience and frustration that such an impediment can cause. We feel for these characters, and we root for them the whole way. The King’s Speech is the Rocky of public speaking, an underdog we hope can go the distance. 5 out of 5 stars