Dir. Tom Hooper. UK. 2010.

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With the Oscars just around the corner, there's a lot of talk in the world of cinema about which releases will be the front-runners for Best Picture. Some are saying The Social Network while others are arguing True Grit. However, there's one movie that already seems to be at the front of the pack: The King's Speech.

Set in 1930s England, Colin Firth stars as the Bertie, the Duke Of York, the next in line for the throne after his rebellious brother turns down the position in order to marry a recently divorced woman. However, as his father, the King, becomes increasingly ill and he is forced to step up, Bertie feels unable to perform the duties thrust upon him because of a speech defect and seeks help from a doctor Lionel Logue.

The movie manages to give a great insight into the responsibilities of being a monarch in this era. It shows how, with the invention of the radio and the increased use of cameras, the monarch can no longer just remain a name; he must have a face and, as The King's Speech makes a lot of emphasis on, a voice in order to lead the nation. Especially as the country, and the narrative, builds up to war with Germany. While the characters are unaware of what lies around the corner, the screenplay from David Seidler brilliantly drops references and information into the story allowing the viewer to recognise what is coming.

Moreover, The King's Speech is a wonderful look into the man who would become King George VI. As Lionel attempts to uncover the root of his stammer, the soon-to-be King becomes a tremendously sympathetic protagonist, giving a human face to a role that is so commonly two-dimensional. Colin Firth does an unbelievable job in bringing that to the big screen in a performance just as good as his one in A Single Man. While many actors would just stammer through their lines, Firth instead manages to merge the defect with a heartbreaking portrait of a troubled and frightened human being. A scene in which he opens up to Logue about the isolated existence of being a son of the King, explaining how the doctor is the only "normal" person he's met, is worthy of an Oscar in itself.

As well as being a moving story of how Lionel helps Bertie to face his stammer and the heartwarming friendship that was made between the two, The King's Speech is also a surprisingly funny movie with many of the exchanges between Lionel and Bertie generating a roar of laughter and applause from the audience. Furthermore, it's terrifically well made with fantastic cinematography, a beautiful score and some striking production and art design throughout.

Heartwarming, funny and touching, The King's Speech pushes is as enjoyable a release as you're likely to find this year is sure to be one of the biggest hits at the Academy Awards.

Daniel Sarath

Also see Howard Schumann's review of The King's Speech

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