The King movie cast: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Ben Mendelsohn
The King movie director: David Michôd
The King movie rating: 2 stars
David Michôd’s The King is a period drama set in the early 15th century that chronicles the rise of King Henry V and mainly tells the story of how he won over France. Available on Netflix, the film draws you in because of its cast featuring Timothée Chalamet and Robert Pattinson and while you come in for those two, it’s Chalamet that you stay for.
We meet Hal (Chalamet’s Henry V) as he is drinking and wasting away his life in the dark alleys of the city. He has a strong hate for his father’s politics and absolutely no interest in taking the throne but circumstances change, and he becomes the King. Early on, it’s strongly established that a King has no friends and there’s hardly anyone he can trust. Add to that his father’s fondness for irrational violence, Hal knows that there is no one in his court who actually gets his point of view.
After Hal attacks France upon apparent provocation, he believes it is being done for the greater good. And though the English are grossly outnumbered by the French, Hal and his confidante Falstaff (Joel Edgerton) device a plan to win the battle.
The film is based on William Shakespeare’s Henriad but focuses on Henry V. While we have seen various interpretations of Shakespeare’s work in film, this one is a tad bit classical in its treatment, which requires a bit of patience from the viewer’s end. Keeping that patience pays off in the final battle which is excellently shot. It captures the horror of war while also communicating the efficient strategy devised by Falstaff.
Robert Pattinson plays The Dauphin of France and his weird French accent makes you laugh, which isn’t intentional. His attitude is right but it’s his accent that throws you off. Chalamet, who has been ruling the category of teenage heartthrobs, displays maturity and restraint in his performance. From a boy whose decisions are constantly judged to a man who rules with an iron fist, his transition is organic and impressive. In scenes, where he jumps into battle, it’s believable that a man of his size has the capacity to crush someone’s skull which is saying a lot since he is fighting against men who are twice his size. Lily-Rose Depp has a small role as Catherine, who is married to Hal and the one scene where they have a conversation will tell you more about the King’s character than the entire movie.
Though it’s a film, it feels like a play in many places. The visually dark setting and the slow-paced dialogues add to that feel even more. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw gives you enough time to understand the geography of the battle scenes so well that you really don’t need much explanation simultaneously. However, The King feels long-drawn in many places.
The King is not the jewel of Chalamet’s crown, but it certainly is a precious stone in his collection.
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