Had Lionel Logue still been alive ten years ago, I would probably have met him. I met every single other speech therapist, it seems.
You see, much like King George VI, I used to have quite the stammer. In fact, I still do, I just learned to work around it most of the time.
“The King’s Speech” opens with Best actor nominee Colin Firth as George, then Prince Albert, Duke of York, giving a public speech and failing miserably at it. Being a stutterer myself, I’ve taken notice on how this speech impediment has been portrayed in movies over the years. None came close the real thing. But this scene, and this movie, change that. Watching Firth struggle with getting out the words, his throat cramping up, his whole body visibly tensing, I was brought back to my school days, having to recite a poem or reading from a book in class. I know exactly how dreadful it is to be blocked by your own speech in this way.
So while I found this part of the movie, the stuttering, to be most realistic, the speech therapy, while certainly fun to watch, felt rather gimmicky to me. In real life, or at least in my life, things are not really that simple. But this is a movie, and I understand that it’s not really about the actual issue of stuttering. Which is fine. And it’s not like George is magically healed of all his troubles of the end of the movie.
Geoffrey Rush gives a marvelous performance as Logue. He is nominated in the Supporting category, but really he and Firth are both leading players in this. They are supported by Helena Bonham Carter, herself a nominee (and appearing in four(!) nominated films this year, which has got to be some kind of record?).
“The King’s Speech” is nominated in 12 categories and a front-runner in at least four of them: Best Picture, Director (Tom Hooper), Actor in a Leading Role and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).
Alexandre Desplat is nominated for his original score, and it’s a good one, but good old Ludwig van is stealing the (climactic) scene of the movie with the magnificent 2nd movement from Symphony No. 7, one of my all time favorite pieces of music.
I’m not going to be rooting for “The King’s Speech” to win Best Picture on Sunday (Come on, “Toy Story 3“!), but if the expected is to happen, I certainly won’t begrudge it. A fine film with great performances and skillful work behind the scenes. Recommended.