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The King's Speech

Colin Firth and co-stars deliver an entertaining tale of royal pluck

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They might as well just start engraving the Oscars now -- an inspirational, real-life-story about a British royal overcoming a disability during wartime? Tom Hooper's film is a handsomely made, well-acted story that, for the most part, wins hearts by transforming a potentially mega-watt historical story into a low-key dramedy and mismatched buddy movie. Britain's Prince Albert ("Bertie" to his family) has always stammered -- and now, with the advent of radio and newsreels -- it matters. Desperate, Bertie (Colin Firth) turns to the unorthodox treatment of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a quirky Australian speech therapist. The film, which slyly trades on our obsession with the domestic lives of royalty, is well paced; the dialogue is lively and witty; and many respected thespians are on board. As befits the prince's unique position as one of the earliest British royals to be publically available through mass media, the prince is mostly about rigid composure. Beneath that, it's Firth who lets us read Bertie's anxiety, embarrassment and misery beneath the stiff upper lip. Starts Sat., Dec. 25.

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