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King's Speech, The


Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Claire Bloom, Eve Best, Anthony Andrews, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez

Director: Tom Hooper

Though it takes a while to get used to the fact that Firth looks absolutely nothing like King George VI, there's much to savour from the interplay of characters in this account of the efforts of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush) to cure the stammer the king had had from the age of five.

Initial encounters between the two are prickly. The king recoils at being addressed as Bertie (his real first name was Albert) and refuses to address the therapist as Lionel, or co-operate with his laid-back attitudes. But, gradually, a fragile friendship is forged.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the monarchy is in chaos. Two years after berating Bertie for his inability to perform on radio, George V (Gambon) dies, leaving the weak David, alias Edward VIII (Pearce), to abdicate a few weeks later over his love for an American divorcee (Best), propelling brother Bertie to the throne.

His wife (Bonham Carter) is a soft-spoken tower of strength but, despite a brief parting of the ways, it's Lionel who finds himself increasingly called upon, not least when the new king is required to make a long radio speech at the outbreak of war.

Though Firth does well, Rush has all the best lines, and it's his performance that leaves the greatest impact on the film. Aussie Pearce's English accent is impeccable apart from one glaring lapse on the word 'progress'. 17 uses of the 'F' word and other obscenities have been passed with a 12A certificate on the grounds of speech therapy. This opens a whole new can of censorial worms and we haven't heard the last of its repercussions.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Jan 2011