Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2011
If you’ve been under a rock for the last month and immune to the buzz this life-affirming film has been generating, here’s the story: King George VI of England (Colin Firth) ascended to the throne only reluctantly when his brother abdicated in 1936 to marry an American divorcee. George Albert (“Bertie”) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) preferred a life away from the public eye, but there was another reason for their reticence. The king-to-be suffered from a severe stammer, especially when speaking publicly. As war with Germany was imminent, and this new invention, radio, would clearly play a large part in maintaining public morale, broadcasting the planned weekly messages was going to be a problem. So his wife retained a somewhat unorthodox Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to address the issue, and the result is this high-class buddy movie. Director Tom Hooper has created a warm and wise, multilayered film that boasts fine lead performances; a pitch-perfect script that works in some spot-on comedy; a supporting cast that includes Timothy Spall, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle and Michael Gambon; and a denouement that will leave you smiling. Sure it’s Oscar bait, but it’s also fun to watch.