The King Review

Timothée Chalamet was proclaimed a revelation after his stunning performance in Call Me by Your Name (2017) and Beautiful Boy (2018). This year, Timothée’s winning streak is back again with two new films: The King, a Netflix production directed by David Michôd, and the long-awaited Little Women by Greta Gerwig, which is set for a December release. Prior to The King’s November release, the film travelled to the Venice International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival and had its Asian premiere at the 24th Busan International Film Festival.

Timothée Chalamet in The King (2019)

Photo © Netflix 

The King, a new work from Animal Kingdom’s director, is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V. Michôd and Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the script, admitted that they took liberties with the story of Henry, using literary fiction and historical materials as a starting point, and turning The King into a coming-of-age story.

King Henry IV’s (Ben Mendelsohn) tyranny and egotism drives his son Prince Hal (Chalamet) away from him. The young man drinks his disappointment and sorrows away, and lives day by day often accompanied by Sir John Falstaff (Edgerton), once a military hero and now Henry’s loyal friend. After the death of Henry IV and the appointed King, Thomas of Lancaster (Dean-Charles Chapman), Hal is made to become the next English monarch, and he is quickly met with several hurdles. Starving subjects, secret plots by his closest advisors, and the threat of war with neighbouring France all make his reign very difficult. Henry V’s first few months in power also become a valuable lesson in adulthood, and an opportunity to realise what kind of leader, and man, he wants to become.

Joel Edgerton and Ivan Kaye in The King (2019)

Photo © Plan B Entertainment 

The casting director made a wise decision to offer the role of the young king to Chalamet. His on-screen transformation from rebellious young man to a wise and fair ruler is one to admire; the actor is genuine, magnetic and bright. Although, there are many superb characters surrounding the young man in the film, it’s his strong performance that remains the most powerful throughout the production.

The King has its humorous moments too as scenes including Robert Pattinson in the role of the Dauphin of France, a self-absorbed, cruel and self-serving son of the king of France added excitement to the whole narrative. The King also features good writing, as stylisation of dialogues and local accents are dainty, distinctive and not questionable. While, Adam Arkapaw’s camera work presented the film in depressing grey and dark blue hues throughout the story, which also added tension to The King. In the well executed battle scenes armour and bodies are seen swirling in the mud, transforming the scenes into almost a tribute to Mór Than’s Battle Scene in Tápióbicske painting.

The King | Netflix Official Site

Photo © Plan B Entertainment 

The King is an interesting take on Henry V’s story and undoubtedly worth seeing on the big screen for its cinematography and battle scenes. Although The King has now been released on the small screen, one can hope that the film will provoke the same emotions, and engage the audience in the way that viewers were able to experience during the film festival circuit.

Rating:  download

Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Roxy Simons

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