Tales about the British monarchy are starting to become a dime a dozen, and most deal with how heavy hangs the head that wears the crown. While “The King’s Speech” may be cut from the same cloth, its pattern is different enough to make it a unique and engaging piece of history.
Prince Albert (Firth) suffers from a debilitating stutter. A stutter so bad that he can’t recite a simple speech for his father, the king, without looking like an incompetent fool. After having seen nearly all of the speech therapists in the area, he is finally set up with an appointment by Lionel Logue (Rush), a man who claims he can help those who truly want to be helped. While Albert feels Logue’s efforts are unconventional and unbecoming to a future king, he finds a friend in Logue and a voice in himself.
With a group of British thespians as skilled as Firth, Rush and Carter as Albert’s wife, there is no doubt what is seen on that screen is subtle magic. Firth gives the performance of his life as the would-be king with the stammer that can’t be cured, and one that is generating much Oscar-buzz. Although he will eventually become King George VI, we’re able to see the side of a king that would not be otherwise shown. He’s vulnerable and courageous, yet hampered by his speech.
Firth is plain incendiary. Rush, who has been on the scene for quite some time but still does not have the recognition in the States that he does in the U.K., is a scene stealer. He shows compassion and understanding and a need to help people. Rush inhabits every role he’s in and it’s no less true here. Although only a supporting character, Carter holds her own quite well against her co-stars. She’s loving, supportive and free of judgment. Those who only know Carter from the “Harry Potter” series will be surprised with her restrained, yet humorous, role.
In real life, Albert worked with Logue for over 10 years, but the scripts shortens this considerably, which makes the film move along at whip-crack pace. The script is sharp and snappy, perhaps typically British, but entertaining nonetheless. There’s plenty of meat on these bones and each one is stronger than the last.
With 12 Academy Award nominations, “The King’s Speech” is going to be a formidable opponent come Oscar night. It’s got the right script, cast and direction which may just amount to Oscar glory. Regardless of the results, though, “Speech” deserves to be seen by many and appreciated by all.