The King’s Speech, tipped to win big at this year’s Oscars, is a rich, absorbing British drama chronicling King George VI’s struggle to overcome a stuttering problem that dominates his life and threatens his ability to lead his people. The movie begins in 1925 with the then-Prince Albert (Colin Firth) – father of the present Queen Elizabeth– trying to give his first public speech. Overcome by his speech impediment, his pained pauses fill the stadium. His embarrassment is acutely felt by his wife (superbly played by Helena Bonham Carter) who forces him to seek a cure through Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an eccentric speech therapist.
Unfolding during the Great Depression, the story traces Prince Albert’s sessions with Logue against the backdrop of a royal drama, where his brother Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry an American divorcee. Suddenly Albert, the stammering younger brother who is content to live in the shadows, has become King, with all the public duties that accompany the position. With World War II looming, the need for the King to speak fluently and motivate his people becomes crucial.
Watching Firth stammer his way through a speech, one can physically feel the tension and discomfort that the King must have felt. Firth’s performance as the reserved, reluctant King is brilliant and Rush, as the unorthodox Lionel Logue, gives an equally memorable performance. With great comic timing and a well-written screenplay, The King’s Speech gives us a unique insight into the hardships that even royalty can face, and the inherent humanity, and ultimate frailty, of those who are glamorised by history. Told through the touching story of a friendship between social unequals, this is a must-watch movie for 2011.