This week my friend Jen and I went to see The King’s Speech at the Tara Theater. If you haven’t seen it yet, by all means go! This is a movie about persistence, perseverance and courage. With a good dose of humor thrown in.
Tom Hooper directed this historical drama of Britan’s King George VI and his nearly debilitating speech impediment. Yes, the King had a s s sssssss stamm er. A stammer. Colin Firth gives a stellar performance, portraying Prince Albert (referred to as Bertie) who eventually becomes the King. He is so human, and you can see the pain and fear in his face when speaking publicly. I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair, silently cheering him on, trying to talk for him. At times, it was painful to watch, but in a good way.
We see Bertie talking to his intimidating father King George V, and the frustration he feels in not being able to properly communicate what he wants to say. His father ridicules him, pushing him to “just say it”, and Bertie falls deeper into his own inner turmoil.
Upon the Death of King George V, the heir to the throne is Bertie’s brother Prince Edward (known as David to the family). David is distraught not with his father’s death, but with the complications this will place on his life with his mistress, as he plans to marry her once she divorces her second husband. But Albert cannot retain the throne if he marries a divorced woman, and he accuses Bertie of trying to use this to usurp his position. I wanted to kick David in the nuts when he taunts his brother by stammering “B B B Bertie”
If the old adage “behind every good man is a great wife” is true, they had Bertie’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, in mind. Played by Helena Bonham Carter, she finds Lionel Logue, an unorthodox speech therapist (played by Geoffry Rush) to help her husband. Unorthodox in that he has his new patient singing his words and swearing his practice speeches. (Jenny poked me in the arm when Berti breaks out with “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck”–that is my favorite word, after all.) It’s not often we see two men open up so completely to each other. Logue stays tough with Bertie, breaking down the social as well as emotional barriers between the two, eventually becoming life-long confidants and friends. The bond that eventually forms between the two men is heartening to watch. Bertie confides in Logue much of his painful childhood, and it is with Logue that Bertie finds his voice. I think it was this relationship that I most loved in the movie, although, for a historical drama, which I typically shy away from, the relationships were all well-developed and honest.
On the brink of WWII and the abdication of King Edward VIII, Bertie must deliver the most important speech of his life. With only 40 minutes to rehearse, he sends for Logue, who carefully and lovingly sees him through the speech.
I loved this movie and all of the emotions it evoked in me. Anger, pity, frustration, hope and joy. Now that’s a tough mission to accomplish.