The King's Speech

March 17, 2012 - Britain's Prince Albert (later King George VI) can hardly spit out a complete sentence until he takes speech lessons from a failed actor named Lionel Logue. This film from 2010 was nominated for 12 Academy Awards. It took home four, including Best Actor for Colin Firth, Best Director and Best Picture. Geoffrey Rush, as Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter, as Queen Elizabeth, were nominated for their supporting roles but didn't win.

The film is set in the late 1930s. Hitler's Germany is causing increased concern in England. When the domineering King George V dies, his oldest son, Edward (Guy Pearce), takes the throne. But, Edward is too wrapped up in Wallis Simpson and champagne to care what Germany is doing. If Edward abdicates, the throne would pass to his serious but stammering younger brother, Albert Frederick Arthur George, known as Bertie.

Bertie developed a stuttering problem when he was a little boy, and the film put the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of his father and older brother. Now an adult, he's expected to give speeches that the whole nation can hear on the radio. It's a toss-up as to which is more painful - Bertie giving a speech or having to listen to it.

Bertie has been to plenty of doctors in an effort to cure his stuttering. Finally, in a last-ditch effort, wife Elizabeth convinces him to see Lionel Logue, an Australian transplant who says he learned a lot by helping traumatized troops who came back from World War I. With war on the horizon and Edward off the throne, the newly crowned King George VI must make the speech of his life – and only Lionel can help him do it.

Overall review: *** The film clocks in at just under two hours but feels shorter thanks to a good script and a cast who keeps things moving. Despite the title, the king's speech is really not the main story here. Rather, the movie reveals a special friendship between a king and a commoner, and it's this relationship that makes everything else work.