Wonderful performances, a bit of history and an absorbing character study make "The King's Speech" one of the best movies of the year.

Colin Firth gives an incredible performance as Albert, the Duke of York, whom we meet in the 1920s. The second son of King George V (Michael Gambon), Albert leads a royal, somewhat secluded life with his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and their two daughters.

Albert knows his older brother, Prince Edward (Guy Pearce), will ascend to the throne - or at least that's what he assumes. That is fine with Albert, who has a pronounced stammer he can't remember being without. Public appearances make him nearly sick with worry as a result, not to mention the advent of radio, which, of course, could carry his speeches all over the world.

His speech becomes more and more of a problem, so Albert begins to enlist the assistance of speech therapists. In desperation, Elizabeth makes a visit to Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who uses unorthodox treatments to help his patients. Lionel does not know Elizabeth's true identity at first. And even after she reveals to him who she really is and who his patient will be, Lionel insists upon having Albert come to see him.

To say that Albert doesn't take much of a shine to Lionel is an understatement. Lionel insists upon calling the prince "Bertie," much to Albert's disgust, and also insists upon Albert sharing personal information. This infuriates the prince, who stands for a only a few minutes of Lionel's treatment before storming out.

Once Albert arrives home, he plays a record of himself that Lionel made and realizes he is indeed able to speak well under the right circumstances. It is then that he realizes Lionel may be able to help him. Eventually, Albert begins to be persuaded by Lionel's unconventional instruction.

Get the Weekender Newsletter

Plan your weekend with our hand-picked list of the Quad Cities' best bets for entertainment.

But war is looming on the horizon. And the threat of war is not the only situation that could rattle the country: Albert's brother has fallen for a commoner who has been divorced twice, an intolerable situation for a man destined to be the king.

Incidentally, this movie's rating is ridiculous. It contains no sex or violence. What it does contain is the f-word, several times, as Lionel tries to elicit an emotional response from Albert. If that makes it adults-only, then I guess it is.

However you say it, this is one of the year's better offerings and one of the best ensemble performances you'll ever see.