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THE KING'S SPEECH

THE KING'S SPEECH A picnic for Anglophiles, not to mention a prospective Oscar bonanza for the brothers Weinstein, The King's Speech is an enjoyably amusing, inspirational drama that successfully humanizes, even as it pokes fun at, the House of Windsor. The story — shy young prince helped by irascible wizard to break an evil spell and lead his nation to glorious victory — is a good one. Directed by Tom Hooper from veteran screenwriter David Seidler's more-or-less-factual script, a cast of Anglo-Aussie stalwarts hit their marks with professional aplomb as Bertie Windsor (Colin Firth), the future George VI and father of England's present queen, overcomes a crippling stammer thanks to unconventional, adorably déclassé transplanted Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). A natural psychoanalyst, Lionel compels the prince to visit him daily in his ramshackle lower-middle-class lodgings and insists on using first names. It's Pygmalion in reverse, with Lionel playing a democratizing Henry Higgins to Bertie's aristocratic Eliza Doolittle. Lionel trains Bertie to sing and dance and curse his way into a radio address and, as in The Queen, the monarchy is here preserved by a clever commoner. The grand finale has the whole nation listening as invisible Lionel "conducts" the king's declaration of war in 1939 — hard-won eloquence discreetly goosed by Hooper's use of gradually swelling background music. That's the official Rocky moment, although the movie really finds its voice in those therapy sessions, when it bids to be a feature-length episode of In Treatment. (J. Hoberman) (Arclight Hollywood, Landmark)