Directed by Tom Hooper Written by David Seidler
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce
118 minutes
December, 2010

I have trouble with films that try to make me feel sorry for royalty. Or the rich. Okay, I know the rich have problems too, but damn it, they get to have servants bring them their breakfast on a tray and get to say things like Maggie Smith just said on Downton Abbey, “What is a weekend?” So raising much sympathy from me for the likes of these people is difficult. This film almost did though—but mainly because of its superb acting.

PLOT: Albert (Firth) is the King’s son but not heir to the throne. That title belongs to Edward (Pearce), who takes the throne and then tosses it to Albert within the year when an American woman steals his heart. Albert, now George VI, has what it takes to be king, (whatever that was at a time when the job had become mostly ceremonial), but he stutters. It turns out what the job requires in 1939 is the ability to inspire the British people to tolerate the war with Germany. So stammering is a problem, especially now that radio demands verbal communication and not just a wave from the balcony.

Albert has seen speech therapists for years. He is now in the hands of Lionel Logue (Rush), thanks to the efforts of his wife (Helena Bonham Carter). Logue has dubious credentials, but he gives Albert what he needs most, a friend. And. as his friend. is able to provide the King with the voice he needs to support and lead his countrymen through the war.

What makes this film work as well as it does is the superb acting of Firth and Rush and the wonderful direction. They are splendid in their roles. Also excellent is the period detail. An odd thing, Helen Bonham Carter’s makeup reminds me of the way women looked at that time. Powdered. I’d forgotten about face powder.

I would have preferred a film about the way stammering affected a lower middle class’ lad’s ability to find work in the depression rather than a King’s ability to order his servants around, but I am probably in the minority here.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.