Colin Firth fans and
British royal family enthusiasts, prepare yourself for a fabulous film
that has already garnered a Golden Globe win for best actor. Best known
for his role as the romantic Mr. Darcy in the BBC presentation of Pride
and Prejudice, as well as the love interest in Bridget
Jones’ Diary (again as Mr. Darcy), and Mamma Mia!,
Firth powerfully and convincingly portrays the tormented and complex
King George VI of England (Queen Elizabeth’s father) during a time when
the whole world is on the brink of war.
Don’t be put off by the R
rating, which had my husband and me concerned. We sheepishly crept to
the theater before our teenaged kids were allowed to see what royal
skeletons the filmmakers had revealed that would deserve such a severe
rating. It turns out there is one pivotal scene midway through the
movie that is chock-full of profanity. But believe it or not, it is
surprisingly necessary to the story and does add some humor. Hear me
out before you cast the first stone!
Having lived in London for five
years and a self-professing royal watcher (I did see the queen twice!),
I adore any story that lets us commoners behind the palace doors to see
the normal, human frailty that afflicts the monarchy. In this story,
George (known as Bertie) is the second-born son of King George the V,
married to Elizabeth (the late queen mother played by Helena Bonham
Carter), and the father of two little princesses, Elizabeth and
Margaret—seemingly content as a royal prince, loving husband and
father, with no plans of ever being king.
This suits Bertie just fine,
mainly because of an embarrassing stammer that makes the smallest of
public speeches a tremendous ordeal. The stress and anxiety of a
debilitating speech impediment have systematically worn away at
Bertie’s self-esteem so that the notion of becoming the ruling monarch
seems impossible. However, the drama begins when his brother, Edward,
announces his commitment to marry twice-divorced American, Wallis
Simpson, foreshadowing a future abdication.
Bertie is put on
notice by his father that he will more than likely become England’s
king after all.
preparation for a potential accession, Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth,
secretly engages the services of out-of-work actor Lionel Logue (played
wonderfully by Geoffrey Rush), who has an uncanny ability to help
alleviate speech impediments. At first Bertie is put off by Lionel’s
strange and unorthodox methods, but as they prove to be effective, he
opens up and a deep friendship ensues. Firth and Rush play beautifully
off of each other during the therapy sessions, particularly in one
where a frustrated Bertie unleashes a throng of R-rated cursing that is
curiously unaffected by his stammer. The scene is humorous (I couldn’t
help but laugh!) and yet shows Bertie’s deep frustration, pain, and
torment—a sober reminder to the Christian that many such afflictions
are the work of the Enemy.
Just as Europe enters World War
II, Edward abdicates the throne, as expected, and Bertie reluctantly
takes his position as George VI of England. As part of his royal
duty, the new king is required to give a radio speech to the entire
nation that will comfort and encourage the British people. The pressure
mounts as Bertie’s stammer gives no indication of waning before the
scheduled broadcast. Contrary to the advice from his counsel, he
abandons all royal protocol and brings Lionel into his inner circle.
Together, they implement Lionel’s unorthodox methods and prepare Bertie
to give the most important speech of his life.
While being a character-driven
drama, The King’s Speech has plenty of conflict and
action that builds dramatic tension, keeping the viewer enthralled and
wanting more. It is an intellectual film that not only reveals a slice
of history but shows how a common man helped mold and shape one of
England’s most beloved monarchs. If you were fans of The Queen,
Helen Mirren, you will be equally fascinated with this peek into royal
Look for this movie to win lots
of nominations during this year’s awards season. Perhaps Mr. Darcy will
win his first and much-deserved Oscar. I’m sure fans of Pride
and Prejudice would like that. And so would Colin Firth.