I was skeptical about the The King’s Speech. The critics love it and it’s a British drama all of which is often code for deadly boring or pretentious. I’m happy to say this movie is impossible not to like. One of the main reasons is that the usual stuffiness is punctured throughout by Geoffrey Rush’s character, Lionel Logue, the unique but effective Australian speech therapist who helps King George VI overcome his crippling stutter.  Rush is funny, touching, and stubbornly sure of himself as Lionel, who doesn’t ever let the Prince use his rank or station to avoid dealing with his impediment or the obstacles that loom before him as World War II approaches.

Colin Firth is the ying to his yang as the king whose stutter represents years of suppressed emotions and insecurities as the younger son who can’t quite ever get his father’s approval. Firth makes the king utterly human. The beauty of the story is watching him transform from a frustrated man whose almost given up on defeating his weakness to a man who can and does respect himself not because he’s royalty but because he knows he has the strength to overcome adversity.  In so doing, his journey is one we can all identify with.

Helena Bonham Carter is charming as King George’s loyal, loving wife who has a spirit and strength of her own that fortifies her husband and won’t allow him to give up on himself.

The build up of George’s brother, Henry’s abdication of the throne, so that he could be free to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson is deftly woven into the narrative in a way that allows us to see the privilege of royalty alongside the responsibility and loss of freedom that comes along with it. Although, let’s face it, it’s not a bad deal.

The King’s Speech is an inspiring, hopeful story that offers a personal view of history. As the king delivers his stirring speech we have the benefit of knowing what’s to come. The movie uses the portrait of one man’s perseverance, will, and determination to give us an understanding of what it took for England and the Allies to meet the greatest challenge mankind had ever faced.

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