I saw this movie theatrically recently, it is mostly a very good movie with sympathetic characters and historical significance. The story begins in 1925, when Prince Albert (played by Colin Firth) is called-upon to give a speech at the British Empire Exhibition, his stammer is excruciating. His wife, Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham Carter), fed up with the long list of "qualified" professionals who cannot help her husband, hires Lionel Logue to treat Albert. Logue is an Australian émigré whose methods are, to say the least, unconventional. Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush with his usual energy and panache, empathizes with his client. However, he lets "Bertie" know that he must do as he is told if he wants to improve. He urges Albert to curse, sing, perform repetitive and weird exercises, and speak freely about his painful childhood. Unsurprisingly, Albert and Logue do not see eye to eye.
The film depicts Albert's valiant attempt to overcome his crippling handicap. Colin Firth is exceptional as Albert, a man who never expected to be king. His older brother, Edward, ascends the throne upon the death of their cold and commanding father, but abdicates to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. Thus, Albert is thrust into the role of monarch, and, as George VI, he is required to address his subjects using a relatively new technology--radio. When England declares war against Germany, George delivers an address (with Logue's assistance), in an effort to rally and unite the nation.
Bertie's older brother did become King, but he abdicated, forcing shy Bertie into the job. The film leads up to Bertie's (now King George VI) very important first radio address to the nation after WWII is declared. The era is recreated well and one feels the weight on the King's shoulders as he prepares to address his countrymen, to guide and strengthen them. It's a moving scene as the King manages to deliver the speech nearly flawlessly with the help of his teacher. Rush is bubbly and funny and kind, Carter is loving and supportive, and Firth is every inch a King.
The King's Speech movie trailer
For those interested in the British monarchy, and in particular the House of Windsor, this is a riveting and even emotional account of the fact that the king who led Britain through World War II struggled with a terrible stammer. The film brought this home poignantly as it makes clear how very traumatic the king's life must have been, especially after the abdication by his older brother. While Firth gives a splendid performance, however, the film was somewhat spoiled for me by the fact that he does not resemble King George VI in the slightest - whereas the actor who plays the Duke of Windsor bears an uncanny resemblance to that disgraced man. It's a small detail, but for those who care about the historical figures in question it's frankly a slight impediment to credibility.
The King's Speech DVD and Blu-ray will be out on April 19, 2011. For more information, please visit: The King's Speech DVD and Blu-ray Release info