Brilliant, charming, moving, in places very funny and deserving of the Oscar nominations that it has attracted.
A royal heir overcoming a stammer sounds initially like a rather thin premise for a 2 hour film. But David Seidler’s sensitive story of the future King George VI and his friendship with Lionel Logue, his slightly unconventional speech therapist, brings to the fore the social and cultural setting of its time and a monarchy struggling with controversy and coming to terms with a new age of communication.
Colin Firth is amazing as George VI, but I was also moved by Geoffrey Rush’s portrayal of Lionel Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth (the Queen’s mother). Timothy Spall achieves a very passable Winston Churchill, with perhaps a slight comedic twist, though if stories about Churchill are to be believed this could be a fair reflection!
The characters, the wonderful settings and the unfolding story combine to give the film just the right pace without feeling either hurried or dragging. The sense of desparation in George VI as well as the urgency of needing to overcome his stammer remain palpable right up to the final speech of the film’s title, delivered at the dawn of the second world war.
George VI’s dilemma, and ultimately, triumph, is summed up in his frustrated recognition of the role that he plays in national life;
“If I am King, where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them.”
And so, in his day, he did.