This was an excellent film. It is perhaps a little more sedate than many of the movies that hit theatres during the holiday season, but well performed and with a great deal of heart.
It chronicles King George VI's ascension to the throne and his struggle with a stammer. With the support of his wife (played by the ever-lovely Helena Bonham Carter), "Bertie" finds a speech therapist, Lionel Logue, that helps him overcome his impediment. Not only does Lionel help him with the mechanical issues of speech, he becomes his friend and helps Bertie tackle some of the emotional struggles that effect his speech. In a country on the verge of war, King George feels the pressure to be able to raise the spirits of the people. He is pitted against Adolf Hitler, a very dynamic speaker. The strained relationship between Bertie and his older brother David (King Edward VIII) who abdicated the throne to marry divorced socialite, Wallace Simpson, is also highlighted. Though the actor playing David, Guy Pearce, looks younger than Colin Firth, there interaction felt realistic- the not quite animosity between them comes out in several scenes.
Firth very believably portrayed Bertie's struggle with verbally expressing himself. For a well spoken actor, it was no doubt a difficult balancing act to portray Bertie's stammer accurately. Still, he succeeds in showing the frustrating experience of his character. Geoffrey Rush is very likable as the speech therapist that isn't afraid to be unconventional or treat Bertie more like a friend than a member of the royal family.
Michael Gambon and Jennifer Ehle also make appearances as George V and Mrs. Logue, respectively.
This film was rated 'R'. I don't generally watch 'R' rated films because they tend to be gratuitous, often movies receive that rating for excessive violence or graphic sexuality or vulgarity. However, this film merely drops the f-word a few times as a part of Bertie's speech exercises. Many PG-13 movies have far more offensive content. The high rating seemed unnecessary and will probably keep many younger audiences from being taken to see it. Though I don't advocate swearing, it doesn't come out of an offensive or degrading context. This would still be an excellent film for a young person with a speech impediment to see. It's inspiring and hopeful- rare qualities for a movie lately.