This past Friday I took my son out to see a film I was pretty certain he’d be bored to death with in The King’s Speech. The movie stars Colin Firth as Prince Albert (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth‘s father) and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, a speech therapist of last resort.
Prince Albert suffered for nearly his entire life with a horrible case of stammering/stuttering. His father, King George V, resorted to every stereotypical response common at the time which only served to exacerbate the condition. The era is also critical as his generation is the first to grow up with the new medium of radio. Past monarchs and royals could hide such an affliction but not in the age of “wireless”.
Albert’s wife, Elizabeth (played expertly by Helena Bonham Carter) desperately wants to end her husband’s long torment and finally reaches out to Logue who is anything but traditional in his approach. Rush plays the role here with complete perfection.
As the story unfolds we can see how Bertie (as he’s known) and Lionel forge both a working relationship and a lasting friendship built on much trial and error and unflagging trust. The story does take a while to get going but once it does it’s quite a good show and rather moving in its own way.
The direction here is quite noteworthy. Every shot seems to be fully thought out. A classic example is in each encounter Bertie has with a microphone. The presentation is so well done that we feel claustrophobic and pent up with impending stress. The walk to the microphone comes off as if he’s a condemned man walking the last steps to the gallows.
There’s also some exceptionally well-timed humor to be found here and there as the relationship between the two main characters is anything but typical. When the laughs come they’re both funny and stress-relieving.
While all the acting is excellent it’s Rush who really shines. This is a role worth of a nomination but I suspect it’ll be passed over as this is a film few are likely to see and that’s a real pity.
How’d my son fare? As we rose I thought of apologizing as it seemed like material that would be tough for a 15 year-old to absorb. Before I could speak he said, “When I get my own Blu-ray player this is going to be the first movie I get.” As I looked up I saw the emotion in his face and eyes. The rest of the evening we spoke about the film, the history and its impact. It turned out to be a great father/son experience.