#REVIEW: “THE KING”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Without diminishing the talented Nick Robinson and Haley Lu Richardson, is there a more talented 23 year-old actor than Timothée Chalamet? After making strong impressions in supporting roles in movies as diverse as Interstellar, Men, Women & Children and Lady Bird, he stunned movie-goers globally with his exquisite performance in Call Me by Your Name. Many feel he deserved an Oscar that year and also the following year for his searing performance in Beautiful Boy. All that said, I approached the screening of his latest movie, THE KING¸ with some trepidation. Could Chalamet convincingly portray a character in a film set in medieval times with Shakespearean overtones or has he met his cinematic Achilles’s Heel match? I am thrilled to report that he has added another dazzling performance to his sparkling résumé.
Hal (Chalamet), is the fey, yet womanizing, wayward prince and reluctant heir to the English throne, who has turned his back on royal life and is living among the people, alongside his trusted mentor Falstaff (played with gruff authority by Joel Edgerton, who also co-wrote the Script with the Movie’s Australian Director, Peter Michod) . But when his tyrannical father dies, hypnotically portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, Hal is crowned King Henry V and is forced to embrace the life he had previously tried to escape. Like so many of the recent spate of Historical Dramas playing at the local movie house, THE KING is replete with narrative and I, with minimal interest in most things monarchial, sit there in awe of the Dialogue, Costume Designs and Cinematography as most of these movies share a similar thread: men of the cloth and royal advisors tend to be corrupt and self-serving, there’s always a feud between two countries that I can never fathom why and that the days of yore were extremely violent. So I usually let the historical logistics and subplots, spoken with impeccable British accents, wash over me unscathed and bathe in the glory of the performances while waiting for the next battle scene.
Peter Michod’s vision is textural and fascinating in its greyness despite his use of every cliché imaginable for the climactic Battle at Agincourt. Why are all medieval battles fought in a downpour? THE KING sadly brings little new nor exciting nor new to the genre. The sword plays in fields of mud while soldiers get stabbed, decapitated and maimed to a Soundtrack of clanging metal armour and horses neighing has now, for me, been done to death. Michod’s forte is bringing out the best in his actors, regardless of the length of their screentime. Joining the aforementioned Edgerton and Mendelsohn in stellar performances are Thomasin McKenzie in a tiny role as Queen Philippa of Denmark and Hal’s sister, Lily Rose-Depp as a feminist Catherine de Valois, relative screen newcomer Tom Glynn-Carney who dominates every scene he is in as Hotspur and, especially, Robert Pattinson as The Dauphin of France. It is a haughty and hysterical performance that made me squeal like an adolescent schoolgirl watching him in the Twlight movies every time he is on screen!
But the coup-de-grace is Chalamet. Watching him transform from Hal to a powerful strong King and witnessing his emotionally-stirring and commanding speech before the Battle of Agincourt is sheer genius. And Henry V’s reaction to a plot twist at the end of the Movie is worth the price of admission.
THE KING opens in a limited theatrical release in Toronto on October 16, 2019 Montreal on October 25 and Vancouver on November 1 before it streams on Netflix. I urge all to see this Movie on a big screen for its powerful impact.