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Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: 'The King's Speech'

December 1, 2010 |  4:30 pm

The King's Speech

Sometimes a filmmaker gives you more of a performance piece than movie, and so it is with Tom Hooper’s delightful “The King’s Speech,” a film that is sure to begin collecting award nominations for its actors, at least.

A set piece that could just as easily have found life on the stage, "The King's Speech" is the story of a friendship between commoner and king born of necessity, just not the one you originally believe.

Following last year’s exceptional “A Single Man,” Colin Firth is back with another Oscar-worthy turn as the man who would be king, not because he craves it but because it is his destiny, despite a crippling stammer.

Geoffrey Rush, in a performance that is as remarkable as it is charming -- possibly the best of his long, distinguished career that includes an Oscar for his eccentric piano prodigy in "Shine" -- is this royal's unconventional Aussie last-ditch chance. A friendship is forged, and we see two lives transformed. No special effects, but many special affects.

It's an intimate, small-scale film, which serves to make “The King’s Speech” satisfying in an old-school way -- counting on a simple story of a man trying to become a better one. Perfectly drawn performances by Firth and Rush take us out of our day-to-day lives for just a little while.

That is priceless. Well, almost priceless -- there will be that ticket to buy on your way in.

-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in a scene from "The Kings Speech." Credit: Laurie Sparham / The Weinstein Co.