From the moment we see Colin Firth struggling to speak with seven tiny spheres in his mouth we know this is not your average british royalty film. He plays King George VI who, in order to surpass his stutter, works with unorthodox australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Helena Bonham Carter completes this bizarre trio, playing George’s wife in the sort of role that reminds us of the serious actress she is – but with a hint of her own weirdness, too.
With sporadic historical references and appearances of personalities like Churchill (instantly recognisable as played by Timothy Spall), George V (Michael Gambon, nothing short of his usual excellence) and Edward VII (a deliciously mean Guy Pearce), The King’s Speech doesn’t really bother too much with portraying those times. In fact it uses historical context only when necessary for understanding and developing the plot. The real portrait that director Tom Hooper aims to capture is the one of the unlikely friendship between a monarch and a common man, which is surprisingly entertaining.
It is visually prodigious, particularly the set design (those fabulous wallpapers) and all the immaculate costumes and royal accessories, all of which only increase the discomfort of a man who lived constantly terrified. It’s a wonderful and relatable story, not only about friendship but also about overcoming our fears, and it provides a refreshingly humane portrayal of a royal figure. That side of it is moving and saddening, but what makes The King’s Speech and inspirational film it’s an unexpected, clever and quite queer sense of humour, powered by a ridiculously talented cast, and the warm joy that comes from watching a story of triumph.