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The King's Speech -- Film Review

A king is made into a commoner and a commoner -- no, worse, an Aussie -- is made into a pro that for all his lack of pedigree can rule enunciation, diction and language.

Who knows how close any of this comes to historical fact; the filmmakers' main source appears to be the Logue family. It doesn't really matter, though, because something about all this feels right, as do the characters.

Firth doesn't just make a British king vulnerable and insecure, he shows the fierce courage and stamina beneath the insecurities that will see him through his kingship. It's not just marvelous acting, it's an actor who understands the flesh-and-blood reality of the moment and not its history. It's an actor who admires his character not in spite of his flaws but because of them.

Rush is absolutely wonderful, and Hooper shoots him with all sorts of angles, lighting and strange positions that makes him look like an alien landed in 1930s London. Nothing much impresses him, and he is supremely confident in his own expertise, even when challenged by a star pupil and his coterie of advisers. He won't yield an inch.

Carter is a revelation here despite a long career as a leading lady. She makes Bertie's wife into not just a warm and caring soul but a witty and attractive woman who understands her husband much better than he does himself.

There are many supporting performances, but many, alas, are waxwork. Perhaps the worst belongs to the usually reliable Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill.

The production is a strong one. No one can do this sort of thing like the Brits. Oops, composer Alexandre Desplat is French. Oh well, in this instance let's make him an honorary Australian.

Venue: Telluride Film Festival (The Weinstein Co.)
Production: The Weinstein Co. and U.K. Film Council in association with Momentum Pictures, Aegis Film Fund, Molinare London, Filmnation Entertainment present a See Saw Films/Bedham Production
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Anthony Andrews, Claire Bloom, Eve Best
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenwriter: David Seidler
Producers: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
Executive producers: Geoffrey Rush, Tim Smith, Paul Brett, Mark Foligno, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein
Director of photography: Danny Cohen
Production designer: Eve Stewart
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Costume designer: Jenny Beavan
Editor: Tariq Anwar
No rating, 118 minutes