Film Review – The King

The King (MA)

Directed by: David Michod

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

With their political views clashing, tyrannical and war-happy King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn) and his oldest son, and heir to the English throne Prince Hal (Timothee Chalamet), have become estranged.

Peacekeeper Hal has turned his back on his royal life to live a modest existence of booze and no responsibility among the people, but when his father dies, the Prince is reluctantly crowned King Henry V.

Thrust into a world he does not wish to be in, he attempts to rule without war and violence while still keeping everyone’s respect and loyalty, but finds himself unknowingly manipulated into a battle with France, something he wanted to avoid, to claim land.

With a slow, but deliberately paced approach, co-writer/director David Michod’s (who adapted William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V with Joel Edgerton) understated storytelling technique allows this to unfold delicately and it often feels like we are watching a play shot in widescreen.

In fact, Michod’s style is so low-key that it could test audience’s patience; those with short attention spans watching this on Netflix on a Saturday night may not last 20 minutes, but it would be in their best interest to stick with it.

The King

The first half is a gradual build, for sure, as it develops its characters, their relationships and dynamics and establishes the groundwork for later twists that are to come, but when the pieces start coming together, it is compelling viewing.

The centerpiece battle sequence is strikingly filmed. A brutal reminder that for all the talking about war and tactic cannot prepare for its realities – a weight that Hal must carry on his shoulders.

Chalamet is the highlight of this handsome production; he is perfect as the reluctant King. The talented 20-something embodies the lazy, unimposing peacekeeping type (his slight frame makes him look like a tween), but then rises to the occasion and utterly convinces as a King who needs to inspire an army of men to charge into battle.

He is matched late in the story by Robert Pattinson in a smaller and flashier role as The Dauphin of France; his campy performance bringing some levity to this super serious historical drama.

 

The King screens in WA exclusively at The Backlot on October 11, 12, 13 and 16 before launching on Netflix on November 1.

For times and tickets, click HERE.

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