THE King is a strange mishmash of English history, Shakespeare and invention from Animal Kingdom writer David Michod and Joel Edgerton.
It follows much of the story of Henry IV and Henry V plays, even including Shakespeare’s fictional character of Falstaff (Edgerton), albeit in a greatly changed role.
However, the film clearly wants to provide a more period accurate portrayal of 15th century England and while it succeeds in depicting the grime, mud and hardship, it also takes out the humour and entertainment of its Shakespearean source.
Timothee Chalamet as Henry V, or Hal, with his younger-than-his-years face and painfully skinny frame, makes a striking contrast with the older male advisors who always surround him.
He is convincing as a young man in constant turmoil about his royal position and who at first only wants peace – until he opens his mouth and we are reminded why Americans should never be asked to attempt English accents.
The film spend most of its runtime on the Battle of Agincourt and the battle itself is a brutal look at the realities of war, but it is a slog to get there.
Lily Rose Depp’s brief moment as Hal’s French fiance Catherine of Valois at the end of the film is one of the more memorable performances and the story potential that arises from their interaction makes you wonder why the film did not start at this point.
The King is bluntly making the point that often famous moments in history are merely caused by the vanities of men; it just did not have to be so unimaginative in its execution.
The King (MA)
Directed by: David Michôd
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson
Review by Lucy Rutherford
Screening at The Backlot October 11 to 16 and on Netflix from November 1