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FilmSoc Reviews: The King - A Film Worth Hailing

Posted by FilmSoc on Wed, 30-10-2019

All Hail King Henry

by Laura Curran

4/5 Stars

Runtime: 140 minutes

After receiving an eight minute standing ovation during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, The King (David Michôd, 2019) has finally made its way onto selected cinema screens before its world wide release on streaming platform Netflix on November 1st

Directed by David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, 2010) and starring Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, 2017), Joel Edgerton (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michôd) and Robert Pattinson; The King is based on several plays from Shakespeare's 'Henriad' and depicts an epic and intimate portrait of young Henry V (Chalamet) who encounters deceit, war and treachery after reluctantly becoming King of England in the 15th century. 

The most impressive attributes of The King stem from how the film exceeds expectations through genre and characters alike. While for the most part The King is a tense, historical drama, at its core it is a chaotic coming of age story. Michôd finely depicts the arc of a young Prince Hal, a heavy drinking wastrel frequenting brothels who is reluctantly forced into the position of power as King Henry V following the death of his father and brother. 

In a soulful leading role, Chalamet portrays Henry V as a serious king, to be respected and some cases even to be feared while still managing to convey the moments where Hal is still only a young boy, out of his depths, full of doubt and fear. He straddles the line between being youthful and mature in equal measure. Pattinson takes his turn squaring up to Chalamet as Henry's opposition in war, the French Dauphin. From the moment he appears on screen, Pattison's Dauphin is arrogant, unhinged and filling each scene with a mad, maybe sometimes over the top energy that steals the screen and provides the film with most of its comedy through only a few dozen lines with Joel Edgerton's Falstaff coming in a close second. 

Michôd's attention to detail and authenticity bring the film to life. During 'the Battle of Agincourt' near the latter half of the film, Michôd employed three real fire ball catapults during Henry V's siege. All of these factors lead to an impeccable final battle scene, one that grips the viewer. It is at times difficult to watch yet impossible to look away from. 

The King shines through the work of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (True Detective, 2014), as he merges together the dark, shadowy hues of the palace and its town to the bright and vast landscapes the King must travel to get to the looming battlefield. Additionally worth noting is Nicholas Britell's (Moonlight, 2016) breathtaking score, that marries emotion and cinematography seamlessly throughout the film. While The King is definitely a spectacle worthy of the big screen, if you missed it on its limited twenty one day release, rejoice in the fact it will available for online streaming when it hits Netflix this November.

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