The King is simply a beautifully made historical medieval drama that diverges from history. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IV-V, Henriad plays, but with some slight twisting of the real story of Henry V just a wee bit. Directed by David Michod (Animal Kingdom, War Machine) and produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company. Joel Edgerton wrote the screenplay along with David Michod. It is important to note that Edgerton played Henry V on stage during his early years while in drama school, so I’m sure this was a very special project and dear to Joel’s heart.
The story starts with a young Henry, Prince of Wales (Hal, to his friends), Played By Timothee Chalamet. Prince Hal is utterly uninterested in royal life and wasting away, living a life of debauchery, with no real purpose or responsibilities. Hal’s father, King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn), is gravely ill and, at the same time battling dissension between the ranks of his noble allies. King Henry IV summons Hal to explain that the line of succession will skip him and go to the younger brother, Prince Thomas (Dean-Charles Thomas). Hal seems worried that his father’s squabbles will put the young Thomas in grave danger and tries to persuade Thomas into not fighting the King’s enemies. Thomas ignores Hal and proceeds to fight the King’s battles, which lead to his death. At this point, Hal has no choice but to reassume his role as the heir to the throne. At his death bed, King Henry IV tells Hal that he must be the next King. Hal seems ready to accept his destiny, and after his father’s death, Hal becomes King Henry V.
The transformation of Hal into King Henry V is instant. His demeanor, body language, and even his bowl haircut elevate the young King’s royal appearance. Chalamet delivers a commanding performance throughout the entire movie. The King continues to move at a fast and steady pace, along with some well written and beautiful dialogue. Robert Pattison is excellent at playing the Dauphin of France as the main antagonist of this movie. The Dauphin’s character had a slimy, sinister feel, almost vampire-like, which Pattison captured well. Joel Edgerton, as the fictitious Sir John Falstaff, had some of the best dialogue in the movie, and he seemed very comfortable in this role. Sean Harris plays Sir William Gascoigne-Chief Justice of England for King Henry IV. I’ve been a fan of Sean’s work ever since I first got the chance to watch him in The Borgias. Harris has always shown to have a strong screen presence in just about all of his work, and once again, he is incredible here. Lily-Rose Depp is a scene-stealer towards the end of the movie; she plays French Princess Catherine, daughter of King Charles VI of France. Depp’s French and English dialogue is beautifully delivered as she confronts Henry into reflecting on the manipulation of his reign as King and who truly benefits from waging war with France.
The King is big-time filmmaking that deserved more time on the big screen. The special effects are well done; they feel natural. You know there are some scenes that cannot be real, but the usage of special effects is well-executed, and they blend well with the cinematography, especially in the battle of Agincourt.
Battle scenes shot from a human eye level, which allows the audience to follow the narrative through, and follow the characters as they fight their way through. The brutality of the battles, even the one on one sword fighting scenes felt natural, raw, and real. The movie, as a whole, never felt slow, and I was left wanting more.
Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿
The King (2019, Streaming on Netflix)