The King's Speech

This is the one to beat for Best Picture and Best Actor at the next Academy Awards. Director Tom Hooper ("John Adams") didn't cut the actors any slack, the cameras are right up in their faces and there is no place to hide.

This wonderful script by David Seidler (lots of TV) tells us about a little- known fact regarding the father of the present-day Queen Elizabeth II of England. Before he reluctantly became King George VI (remember his brother relinquished the throne to marry the woman he loved), Bertie and his gracious wife Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mum) had tried every humiliating technique under the sun to eradicate his crippling stammer.

I want to talk about this brilliant cast:
  • Colin Firth ("A Single Man") is the Duke of York, a loving father to Elizabeth and Margaret, happy in his marriage and hoping against hope that his elder brother will be a capable king. Bertie has no desire for the throne, in fact he's petrified at the very thought. We have to suffer through a couple of his painful attempts at public speaking and pray for something that will help.
  • Helena Bonham Carter ("Alice in Wonderland") is his wife Elizabeth: loving, supportive and resourceful in her search for a remedy. She even learns how to run an elevator all by herself! If this character is anywhere near true to life, it's no wonder the Brits loved their Queen Mum.
  • Geoffrey Rush ("Shine") is Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who learned his craft treating shell-shocked veterans of WWI. He is sworn to secrecy about his client's status, but insists on calling him "Bertie." Their personality clashes are realistic and funny.
  • Derek Jacobi ("Endgame") is Archbishop Cosmo Lang who elicited groans from the audience with his unctuous offers of help for our hero.
  • Timothy Spall ("Enchanted") was better than I expected as Winston Churchill, complete with ever-present cigar.
The script goes big (a pending World War) and small (cozy family gatherings, complete with Corgis), funny (interjecting profanities into speech to distract the stammerer) and sad (Edward VI weeps as feelings of inadequacy sweep over him before his coronation).

We are treated to families who actually care for one another, colleagues who have good manners, actors with impeccable acting skills and the sweep of history. You shouldn't miss a moment of it!