…Speak With Authority

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Tom Hooper’s film “The King’s Speech” sounds like a story we’ve heard before.

The hesitant royal finds the courage to take his place of power after several trials and missteps, but this is not quite that same tale.

The film opens at the close of the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium, Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) is about to address the gathered crowd as well as the radio audience.

You can feel the nerves flying through the air as Albert and his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) stand behind the scenes waiting to make their entrance, and anyone who’s ever done any sort of public speaking can definitely sympathize.

The speech does not go well, and after many “Eliza Doolittle style” attempts at correcting his stammer, Albert all but gives up.

Realizing that her husband’s occupation will not allow him to avoid his problem, Elizabeth arranges for him to meet with a new speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

Logue informal style pushes the future king out of his comfort zone, and on more than one occasion causes some friction between the two.  Insisting that they call each other by their first names, Logue completely ignores tradition and royal family protocol.

The two become friends and confidants as Albert starts to make progress, and Logue works to uncover the real issues causing the prince’s stammer.

After the death of King George V (Michael Gambon), King Edward (Guy Pierce) abdicates the throne to marry, and it becomes clear that Albert will have to step up more than he ever expected.

Colin Firth as the future King George VI portrays Albert not as  a victim of circumstances, but a courageous individual who steps up and confronts his fear when duty demands it.   You rarely feel sorry for him as he works to better himself, if anything, his performance evokes admiration.

Geoffrey Rush’s quirky performance as the non-traditional speech therapist puts you at such ease that it’s easy to see how he earned the trust and friendship of a prince.  Despite his occasional over the top moments Rush represents Logue as a real person who seems to genuinely care about Albert.

Helena Bonham Carter gives a quiet, but powerful performance as Elizabeth.  Always in the background, but obviously the support system that keeps Albert from giving up.

“The King’s Speech” is not your traditional story of a royal who overcomes adversity to claim the throne.  King George VI’s story does not get wrapped up with a nice neat bow. 

At the end the nerves are still there fully intact, but now they are no longer in control. 

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