Title – The King (2019)
Director – David Michod (Animal Kingdom)
Cast – Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp
Plot – The story of crowned King Henry V (Chalamet), who inherits the throne of England from his tyrannical/estranged father Henry IV (Mendelsohn) and must overcome the transgressions of his past and the trials of the present should he look to be the leader his country needs.
“A king has no friends. Only followers and foe”
Review by Eddie on 07/11/2019
Since making his stunning debut with Australian classic Animal Kingdom in 2010, director David Michod has struggled to deliver a project to the same high standards he set for himself, with the good but not great The Rover and the genuinely lacklustre Brad Pitt starring War Machine failing to showcase the director we saw unearthed initially.
It’s pleasing then to see the Netflix released The King show more than its fair share of promise of the director we know exists, in what’s a well-filmed, acted and staged epic that at times transcends itself to become a moving and contemplative examination of power and leadership as it shines a light on King Henry V.
Teaming up with his long term friend and collaborator Joel Edgerton (who also makes his mark on screen as the no fuss John Falstaff), Michod and Edgerton craft a grim and grey insight into the time in which England found itself at war with France and under the leadership of a previously reluctant leader in the shape of Timothee Chalamet’s Hal.
There’s nothing surprising about The King’s narrative movements, one that feels similar to any other similar medieval epic, but Michod and Edgerton explore some interesting themes in amongst all the betrayals, beheadings, battles and bloodshed, that’s expertly played out by a very capable cast.
Continuing on his hot form that has now gone on for a number of years, Chalamet is well cast as Hal/Henry V and the way in which Chalamet moves from drunken slacker to a man determined not to make the same mistakes as his father is perfectly constructed, a performance that is backed up by the reliable Edgerton, a solid if underused Ben Mendelsohn as King Henry IV and a scenery chewing and thick accented Robert Pattinson as the detestable Dauphin of France.
For a Netflix film, The King also feels a cut above a number of its other counterparts with Australian D.O.P Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography capturing a mixture of beauty and horror effectively, while Nicholas Britell’s thoughtful score ensures that Michod’s vision is enhanced by some moody and atmospheric accompaniments.
If there is a notable issue holding The King back from reaching a higher level of accomplishment, it would be that throughout, many of the films characters remain cold and unreachable, even Hal is a hard figure to completely fall for, while many of the films other players are never allowed to grow fully enough for us to invest ourselves in, had the film managed to instil itself with more of a beating heart (say like a Braveheart), its likely Michod would’ve finally had another Animal Kingdom on his hands.
Final Say –
A step in the right direction for director David Michod, The King is a well put together epic that should appease historians and fans of sword and sandal extravaganza’s, that also features a number of solid acting turns that help maintain a constant level of engagement, without ever fully hooking us completely into its time and place.
3 ½ rain predictions out of 5
I was wondering how similar it would be to Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and it’s pretty much scene for scene but without the Shakespearean English. It was mostly enjoyable but it slowed a couple of times.
Yeh that pacing was slightly off here, I found a few scenes a little dull. I did enjoy my time with it overall though.