Review: The King's Speech (12A)*****

THIS film has won over everyone who has seen it. A quirky buddy movie with a period backdrop, it charts the relationship between Prince Bertie, later King George VI, as he attempts to cure his debilitating stammer.

A 24-carat cast drives this one forward. Colin Firth is the king, Geoffrey Rush is Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue, Helena Bonham Carter is Princess Elizabeth (later the Queen) and Michael Gambon is King George V.

Scattered through the supporting ensemble cast are Guy Pearce as Edward VIII, Timothy Spall as Churchill, Sir Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury and Claire Bloom as Queen Mary. First-class writing and strong performances make this one a sure-fire winner. Firth is already being touted as an Oscar nominee for Best Actor. If so it will be his second nod in as many years.

David Seidler's compassionate and humorous screenplay has the benefit of authenticity courtesy of Logue's own diaries which chart his relationship with the young prince who became a reluctant monarch.

The movie offers up a stop-go history lesson as Logue drifts through Bertie's life, seeing it with the wide eyes of an outsider and, perhaps more importantly, a commoner not caught up in the trappings of pomp and pageantry.

Yet whilst Rush is excellent as the no-nonsense Antipodean who sees beyond Bertie's unfortunate vocal deficiencies, it is Firth who steps forward with a nuanced portrait of a shy and troubled man always destined to be in the shadow of his father and elder brother.

There is horror here too – horror in the eyes of a man destined never to be king and who is thrust into a constitutional crisis that changes that destiny forever. Logue has the magic bullet to cure his ills.

A key sequence that sets up Bertie's nightmarish experience of public speaking was filmed in Leeds and Bradford. Other moments in this extraordinary tableau are set in London as director Tom (The Damned United) Hooper takes us on a journey through royal service circa 1936. All of it is wholly plausible and authentic.

A dazzling example of British cinema at its finest, The King's Speech is hotly tipped for Oscar glory. Send it victorious.