I expected to be bored by the movie “The King’s  Speech”, but I quickly became absorbed in this quiet drama of a man struggling to overcome his fear.

I was going to write “fear of speaking in public”, but that trivializes the dread that most people feel when talking or performing in public. But in the case of King George VI, this fear was founded on his handicap, that he stuttered badly.

What saves the film is the quality of the acting. In the BBC 4 radio version, you felt little empathy for the character, and and so I dreaded seeing an actor “pretending” to be what we today would call a nerd.

Instead, in the movie we get  Colin Firth playing the quiet and awkward man who tries his best to live up to what is expected by him. Twice in the movie, people say how “brave” he is; this seems startling since we now live in an era where “bravery” means watching flashy superheroes with gadgets in films, and look up to sports figures and actors as heroic because they play them on TV.

Yet an older generation remembers the idea of quiet heroism, which is seen in everyday people who work hard and sacrifice and face their fears because it is their duty. It is this type of heroism, that is conveyed by the film, and I am glad to see someone remembers it still exists.

But the real “scene stealer” is Helen Bonham Carter as the “Queen Mum”, who loved, respected, and helped her husband overcome his speech impediment and his feelings of worthlessness from being ridiculed and put down by other family members. One longs for a follow up movie about this beloved lady, best known for risking her life to visit victims of the blitz, climbing over rubble, dressed in her best clothes and wearing her large hats.

In summary, like the earlier movie “The Queen”, it is a character study, not a film with a big dramatic plot. Don’t take the kids, and don’t go when if you are half asleep.

But if you want a satisfying two hours about a person of quiet heroism who overcomes a handicap, this film will be worth it.

I give it a five out of five stars.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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