The King’s Speech explores the unlikely friendship between King George VI (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist whose unorthodox methods helped a reluctant leader to find his voice at a time when his country needed to hear it most.
Director Tom Hooper has constructed a pitch-perfect account of the events that transpired to elevate Albert to the head of the British monarchy. Although second in line to the throne after King George V’s death in 1936, Albert was forced to take on the mantle of the King following his brother’s abdication. Guy Pearce is at his simpering best here as the weak link of the family.
The film is a pleasure to watch, and several beautifully composed tableaux of scenes of domesticity vividly bring to life the details of a period which sometimes seems reduced to names like Churchill and black and white photos of sombre faces. The locations are also used exceedingly well, with everything from the somewhat rundown workplace of Logue to a London garden on a misty, sunlit morning providing depth and atmosphere to what could have been a rather dry subject.
All of the cast turn in superb performances and Firth is particularly empathetic. His finely balanced embodiment of Albert’s strength and vulnerability is perfectly matched by the quiet power of the future Queen Mother, as uncannily portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter. The ease with which they interact as well as their affection for their young daughters is heartwarming. Geoffrey Rush is fantastic as always.
The film is sentimental, but never in a way that is overly trite. It is a genuine crowd-pleaser and its puzzling limited release will surely be expanded as it continues to gain momentum from ongoing award recognition. There is genuine enjoyment to be had in immersing oneself in a simple story that is told in such a beautiful and satisfying way.