At the Movies: The King’s Speech

Going to the movies on Christmas Day is not one of my holiday traditions. But if it’s one of yours, you’re in luck. One of the year’s best films opens today: “The King’s Speech.”

Colin Firth stars as Bertie, son of King George V of England (Michael Gambon). Older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) is heir to the throne, which suits Bertie just fine. Bertie suffers from a speech impediment which makes public speaking — pretty much all speaking — difficult.

A string of speech therapists prove ineffective, but while Bertie is ready to give up, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) isn’t. She turns to Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whose methods don’t fit with current practices.

But they are effective. Unfortunately they cannot approach therapy at a leisurely pace. When King George V dies, the new King Edward VIII chooses love over the monarchy and is forced to abdicate the throne. This places Bertie — now King George VI — in the spotlight just as his nation is on the brink of the Second World War.

“The King’s Speech” is a prim, proper and very British period drama. It’s fairly predictable but it’s so stylish and well-done that it doesn’t matter that we know how it’s all going to turn out. It’s in the history books, after all.

Firth is excellent as the frustrated, stammering man who would be king. Rush is his equal playing the unconventional speech therapist. Bonham Carter nicely rounds out the leading roles as the supportive queen.

Did it work for me? Yes, and Merry Christmas.

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