Double feature: “The King’s Speech” falls squarely within two established genres – the “period film” and the “therapy movie,” in which progress is made against a physical or mental ailment, with the ministrations of a kind healer. In this latter capacity, the narrative arc of “The King’s Speech” tracks very closely to that of a weepier therapy movie, “Ordinary People.”
In both films, the class disparity between patient and therapist directly contributes to the healing process. Across the social divide separating each pair, the therapist throws challenges and insights that the patient either wouldn’t encounter, or wouldn’t countenance, in his regular world.
Each makes a point of contrasting the tight-lipped expectations of the patient’s family with the broad warmth of the therapist’s milieu (“Ordinary People” echoes this literally in Judd Hirsch’s thick, shawl-collar sweaters and plush, wide-waled corduroys, both in earth tones.)
In each film, self-acceptance and the heart of a charming, slightly offbeat woman round out the protagonist’s journey toward healing.
For a marathon: “Good Will Hunting” mines this ground too, but with therapist and patient coming from the same social background. Consider how this equal footing affects the film’s therapeutic pace and dynamic, vis-a-vis that of the two films above.
After “The King’s Speech,” check out “Mrs. Brown” for another hard-won friendship between a royal and a commoner – and, come to think of it, another therapy movie.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “Judy **” and “ChodHound” at Flickr)