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The King’s Speech

Today I saw what is definitely an early contender for the best film of 2011.

For those who are unaware of the story, The King’s Speech stars Colin Firth as Prince Albert, Duke of York. As the second son of King George V, Albert, or Bertie to his family, is not first in line to the throne. Nevertheless, he still has many public duties to perform but is held back by a serious speech impediment that caused him to stammer badly whenever speaking and especially in public. After a dreadful experience at his closing speech of the Empire Exhibition in 1925, Albert sought the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.

The film follows the relationship between Albert and Logue through the death of George V, the ascension to the throne of Albert’s brother, Edward VIII, and his eventual abdication leaving Albert as King of a country leading up to war. Now King George VI (Albert considered too Germanic to be used as a Regnal name), he must bring his people together in uncertain times and support them through the war.

Colin Firth is fantastic in a performance that has rightly been pegged for all kinds of awards and shows us vividly all the struggles of growing up in a family as unusual as Albert’s, and what that can do to a person. All the while he is struggling to live up to the expectations of  a family, an institution, a Country and an Empire.

Firth is expertly backed up by Geoffrey Rush, with his usual brilliance, as Logue and Helena Bonham Carter in a role that’s really proved to me that I’d under-rated her as a serious actress, as Elizabeth, Albert’s wife.

Also of note among a stellar cast are Guy Pierce as Edward VIII, Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The writing in this movie is great. There’s quite a bit of banter between the leads and there are some really hilarious scenes which I really wasn’t expecting considering the seriousness of much of the subject matter.

Overall it’s a fantastic movie and easy to recommend to anyone. I expect it to win lots of Awards in February.

God Save the King!

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