‘The King’s Speech’ – My Fair Monarch
The patrician in “The King’s Speech” is the Duke of York, transforming into King George VI of England. Impeccably and painstakingly played by Colin Firth, George, or Albert (“Bertie”), is hooked on the horns of a major dilemma: He stammers. The impediment wouldn’t be such a problem, except that his older brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), is abdicating. With World War II about to erupt, the United Kingdom needs a strong voice to unite it, particularly important because radio broadcasts have become the vogue.
His loving wife, Elizabeth, or Queen Mother (Helen Bonham Carter), has the answer in the person of an eccentric, though brilliant speech therapist Lionel Logue. Playing his plebeian Henry Higgins with equal parts comedy and dramatic sensitivity, Geoffrey Rush is marvelously matched to the uptight, tongue-tied monarch. This is truly a Shakespearean “Odd Couple.”
It should be noted that Pearce nearly steals the show as the weak bully brother, probably responsible for much of b-b-b-Bertie’s insecurities. Pearce even manages to look like the real Edward, who is willing to cop-out on his country for the “love” of an American divorcée, who’s actually cheating on him. To make matters worse, Edward is sympathetic to Herr Hitler whom, it is known, he greets with a “Heil” and a Nazi salute. Pearce should consider a sequel focusing on the crazy Edward character.
The title, “The King’s Speech,” has a double meaning, addressing the monarch’s vocal flaw and the allimportant radio message, which he must make at Britain’s entry into World War II. The suspense up to and throughout this historic moment is unbearably intense.