The Duke of York, Albert Fredrick Arthur George (or Bertie as we affectionately come to know him), has a problem. Having been neglected and mistreated all his life in the shadow of older brother Edward, the heir to their father's throne, Bertie has developed a nervous stammer that undermines him and the significance of his royal station every time he attempts to speak. His wife Elizabeth seeks the aid of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who is ambitious about getting to the root of Bertie`s troubles. The mechanics of speaking is not the issue. It's poor Bertie's confidence and sense of self-worth that needs a shot in the arm, especially with WWII looming on the horizon.
Colin Firth is quite excellent as Bertie. He's able to elicit our sympathy easily enough, but it's the more rough-around-the-edge qualities like his quick temper and social elitism that bring a sense of humanity to his character. He plays very well with Geoffrey Rush as Logue, enjoying a warm but sometimes tense chemistry from which stems the movie's heart. Themes about class distinctions and inequality are made, albeit a tad bluntly, by David Seidler's witty script, and are fleshed out even more by Eve Stewart's magnificent production design.
Obviously, anyone who even reads this site and others like it already knows that this film is an Oscar frontrunner. Nominations for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, and probably Original Score are on their way. I'd be really pleased to see it nab a nomination for film editor Tariq Anwar as well, whose shrewd cutting does a terrific job at evoking just the right tone for each scene.
*** out of ****