Plot: Not destined to sit on the throne, “Bertie” (eventually King George IV) deals with his stammer in private, employing a speech therapist. While adopting unusual techniques, Lionel quickly becomes a friend, speaking things to the prince no one else would dare and helping him see his own worth.
With his father’s death and his brother’s abdication, Bertie’s challenges are only just beginning. He must become king, despite not feeling worthy of the throne. That means he must address the nation, including during times of hardship and war. Are Lionel’s lessons and friendship enough to help him overcome his fears?
Quote: `Oh, surely a prince’s brain knows what its mouth’s doing?
You’re not…well acquainted with royal princes, are you?`
Opinion: I have wanted to see this film for a long time after hearing excellent things about it. I finally got hold of it and settled down for an evening’s entertainment. What entertainment it was! This film had everything – it was moving, funny and full of such stubborn determination you were left with the feeling that you could do anything if you tried.
The characterisations were brilliant. I know very little about this era to say whether they were good representations of the actual people involved. But I do know they were displayed with flaws and emotions, tempers and frustrations. They were real and it was so easy to empathise, both with Bertie (Colin Firth) for his struggle and Lionel (Geoffrey Rush) for having to deal with Bertie. These characters had depth that was brought to light in a clear way on screen.
Characters are only as good as the actors and that is really all that needs to be said. Firth’s performance was the strongest I’ve ever seen from him. The preparation he must have gone through in order to produce a realistic stammer, and then learn how to undo that without slipping back into normal speech… It shows an actor dedicated to his work for sure. Rush also delivers a strong performance, although perhaps in a more understated way. The chemistry between the two of them makes their on-screen friendship seem real and genuine – a hard thing to act at times.
While this film was moving and about overcoming one’s problems, it wasn’t heavy going. There was so much humour inserted into the dialogue between Bertie and Lionel, especially Bertie’s outbursts of swearing, that I found myself literally laughing out loud. But the dialogue never tried to cheapen the issue and by the time Bertie had his final speech, I was almost holding my breath, willing him to get through it.
Hearing only good things about a film can make me dubious. This one, however, deserves every word of praise it ever received, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well-developed (perhaps because they were based on real people), the acting strong and the film well-constructed. Tom Hooper definitely knew what he was doing! If you haven’t seen it yet, grab your nearest copy and prepare to be entertained!