For once, the upbeat word of mouth of a multiple Academy Award winning film is more than justified. The King’s Speech is an utterly entrancing historical drama that narrates the fascinating but largely unknown story of the man who would become King George VI. Second in line for the British throne, Prince Albert (Firth) struggles to overcome a severe speech impediment. After the scandalous abdication of his playboy older brother (Guy Pearce), the stammering prince succeeds as the monarch.
At centre-stage is the contentious relationship between the reluctant new king and his eccentric Australian speech therapist (Rush, in a career-defining performance). The tutor shows scant regard for royal protocol — he insists on addressing his patient on a first-name basis — but is nevertheless effective in his unconventional treatment.
After a rough start, the two gradually form a close bond. Their difficult but touching friendship leads to a climax where the king successfully delivers a rousing broadcast rallying his subjects on the eve of the war with Nazi Germany.
With wry, self-effacing humour and a meticulous eye for period detail Tom Hooper, who deservedly snagged the Best Director Oscar, renders the lives of the British royals during the first half of the 20th century.
Helena Bonham Carter as the future Queen Mother leads the strong supporting cast. Wonderful cameos come from Timothy Spall in the role of Winston Churchill, Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop and veteran Claire Bloom as Queen Mary.
But it’s Colin Firth’s pitch-perfect portrayal that dominates the show. No one can possibly grudge him his long overdue Oscar.
In effect, a rip-royal time is guaranteed at The King’s Speech.