I always knew that I would be seeing The King’s Speech as soon as it came out. I had seen the trailer a few weeks ago. The smaller story was familiar: the famous love story of the young and flamboyant king who abdicated the throne because of an American divorce and the ascension of his younger brother who came to the throne at a very important time. What I didn’t know was the extent of his reluctance to ascend after his brother because of his speech impediments.
The story always fascinated me: the triumph of that kind of love over the responsibility of the throne, the irony in the fact that the woman was actually seeing a few other men at the time, the fact that because of that selfish act of thinking of himself first, Edward VIII changed the course of history and turned a little girl Elizabeth who was only just a princess into a heir apparent overnight (today, she’s queen), and the fact that Edward the abdicated king had the good sense not to have any children when he left the throne in order to prevent a future feud that might occur from having two families having claims to the throne.
The lesser told story – at least to me – was the speech impediment that characterized the new king George VI’s life. He was not prepared for the role that was thrust on his laps and he had to turn to professionals for help. This is the premise of the movie, and the story followed his process of getting and receiving help with the help of his wife (the Queen Mother). It already promised to be a very interesting (not to mention important, for those not already familiar with it) story. Colin Firth gives a very convincing Oscar worthy performance as the stammering king while Geoffrey Rush played his firm, non-certified, but very professional speech therapist. As a language student myself, any movie with speech therapy is always a delight, especially when it involves a story that is as dear to my heart as this one. Like My Fair Lady without the music, it offers charming insights into the life of a language professional working at home.
This is a beautiful and a predictable storyline with an unusual and unpredictable brilliance and performance comparable to works like Invictus, Ray, Ali, A Beautiful Mind and others where a brilliant actor plays an even brilliant historical character. Now let’s wait for the Oscars.