It’s a wonder that Colin Firth’s own speech isn’t royally (pun!) screwed after filming this movie. Playing King George VI, he had to adopt an intense stutter, an inability to pronounce R’s, and a weird inadequacy that manifested itself in his posture and his ability to relate to people. Ol’ George must have been one insecure dude.
The resulting movie, however, was brilliant. Funny, too. Moreso than I expected. Firth and Geoffrey Rush, as George’s speech therapist Lionel Logue, had an incredible, casual, respectful chemistry about them, peppered with banter, patience, and Tourette’s-style cussing bouts. It was magnificent watching the two of them work together.
The story is simple, really. George (or Bertie, as Logue calls him) is the Duke of York, then his brother becomes king, then his brother resigns from the throne because he’d rather be with a heathen wife, so George ascends the throne and has to start making speeches, but he totally sucks at it. He stutters, stammers, spits, and embarrasses himself and the country he represents. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone so brilliant and so dignified be humbled by something so organic. And so George’s wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) finds Logue, and after some coaxing, the two men start working together to smoothen George’s speech. There aren’t that many characters or settings or other storylines. It’s simple, like I said.
But the simplicity makes it great and enjoyable and triumphant and exactly the type of movie that you root for at the Oscars. The question is, which of the two men should take home the golden trophy? Watch the movie and you might have just as tough a time deciding as I’m having. I’m still torn.