It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The King's Speech" tells the story of a man compelled to speak to the world with a stammer. It must be painful enough for one who stammers to speak to another person. To face a radio microphone and know the British Empire is listening must be terrifying. At the time of the speech mentioned in this title, a quarter of the Earth's population was in the Empire, and of course much of North America, Europe, Africa and Asia would be listening — and with particular attention, Germany.
The king was George VI. The year was 1939. Britain was entering into war with Germany. His listeners required firmness, clarity and resolve, not stammers punctuated with tortured silences. This was a man who never wanted to be king. After the death of his father, the throne was to pass to his brother Edward. But Edward renounced the throne "in order to marry the woman I love," and the duty fell to Prince Albert, who had struggled with his speech from an early age.
In "The King's Speech," director Tom Hooper opens on Albert (Colin Firth), attempting to open the British Empire Exhibition in 1925. Before a crowded arena and a radio audience, he seizes up in agony in efforts to make the words come out right. His father, George V (Michael Gambon), has always considered "Bertie" superior to Edward (Guy Pearce), but mourns the introduction of radio and newsreels, which require a monarch to be seen and heard on public occasions.
At that 1925 speech, we see Bertie's wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), her face filled with sympathy. As it becomes clear that Edward's obsession with Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) is incurable, she realizes her Bertie may face more public humiliation. He sees various speech therapists, one of whom tries the old marbles-in-the-mouth routine first recommended by Demosthenes. Nothing works, and then she seeks out a failed Australian actor named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who has set up a speech therapy practice.