12 September 2010 | slythinker
This is a biopic about how King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, overcame his stuttering problem. Widely considered by all but his father unfit to be king, George is reluctantly thrust unto the throne and into the spotlight after his brother is forced to abdicate. Overshadowed on the global stage by powerful orators like Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the King relies on the help of a little-known Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue to find his voice and courageously lead his people into the most devastating war humanity has ever faced.
This is a powerful, hilarious and deeply moving story, told against the backdrop of a critical juncture in modern history, of the emergence of a deep friendship out of a professional relationship between two men who would otherwise never have socially interacted. The screenplay, written by David Seidler (who also wrote Tucker: The Man and his Dream), is excellent. The dry British wit is hilarious. I was literally slapping my knee during some of the scenes. Tom Hooper (Elizabeth I) does a superb job directing this movie. The buildup to the climactic finale is skillfully executed and prompted the audience to erupt into spontaneous applause. (Apparently, this also happened at the Roy Thomson Hall premiere.) Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) does a fantastic job as Lionel Logue and Colin Firth (A Single Man) is excellent as King George VI.
I saw the second public screening of this movie at the Ryerson Theater during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Tom Hooper was present to introduce the movie. He was joined by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush after the movie ended for a brief Q&A.
It turns out that David Seidler also had a stuttering problem as a child and drew inspiration from the king's struggle. Early in his career he wanted to write a screenplay about it. He dutifully asked the Queen Mother for permission. She agreed but told him "not in my lifetime". Little did he know she would live to be 101 and he would have to wait another 30 years.
Another interesting tidbit we learned was that near the end of the shoot, the crew finally located one of Lionel Logue's grandsons, who just so happened to live about 10 minutes away from the director. They got access to Lionel's diaries and correspondence and managed to incorporate some of it into the script.
This movie is an unqualified must see.