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The King [Review]

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

Film: The King Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp. Produced by: Brad Pitt & Joel Edgerton Written By: David Michod & Joel Edgerton. Cinematographer: Adam Arkapaw Distributed by: Netflix Score by: Nicholas Britell Review by: Wade Swift Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 X's "Heavy is the head that lies the crown." A phrase as timeless and iconic as the man who coined it. Well, sort of. That phrase which you've probably heard before is actually an adaptation of the passage "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" from William Shakespeare's play "Henry IV: Part two", where in he writes about King Henry IV, who's growing increasingly ill, with the focus of the play beginning to shift more towards Henry IV's son, Prince Hal and his rise to Kingship. That is the journey in which we follow on Netflix's "THE KING". Now, right off the top my biggest knock on this film is that it doesn't start from Shakespeare's intended origin with the play "Richard II". Which is the first of of a four part "tetralogy", which if you're unfamiliar is a collection of plays, these in particular aptly titled "Henriad". It tells the story of a man who would go on to become one of England's great Kings. The story of King Henry V is one that is a mainstay in modern cinema and one that many can relate to. It tells of a boy who's growing into a man, wanting nothing more in life than to do things completely different than the ways of his father. Historically this is especially prevalent when a position of power is involved. In this case it's the Throne of England, and King Henry V's immediate dismissal of his father (King Henry IV)'s tyrannical ways, the ways of careless aggression and bloodshed. To finally bring peace to the kingdom of England, which has seen much civil unrest throughout the latter part of what would eventually be named the "Hundred Years War". While Henry the V was heralded as one of the greatest warrior kings of medieval England, he wasn't particularly partial to war or his people partaking in it. Early in his reign as King, King Henry V is met with great uncertainty, doubt, deceit and even dishonor from his counselman. He's forced to summon his trusted old friend and right hand "Sir John Halstaff" played by Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods & Kings, Black Mass), who gives young Henry V the best possible advice when he says "A King has no Friends. A King has only Followers and Foe". That would go on to be the underlying theme of this film. THE KING is a gripping and powerful tale of the weight the crown of King weighed in the medieval times. The film carries a high level of intensity as a byproduct of it's impeccable pace, tone and score. Also providing us with one of the most realistically captured sword fights I've ever seen on screen. The main character King Henry V is portrayed by Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar). Chalamet plays the role with precision, through a cold and calm intensity in his demeanor. Whether it be the casual conversation or the loudest battle speech it's done with delicate and passionate execution. You really feel the weight of every decision, every betrayal. He becomes noticeably colder throughout the the film as a result of much betrayal, and deceit, by those closest to him, however the crown he wears forces him to act through logic and reason instead of emotion. He cannot waver as England's new king, there is already much doubt for him, his methods and his juvenile past of partying and excessive drinking. Met with much adversity, Henry must prove himself time and time again worthy to his people and his constituents as he's faced with many hardships that put him to the test and push him to his limits, physically but even more so mentally. Unlike many kings before him King Henry V was considerate of human life and the lives of his people, showing compassion often, showing aggression when needed. A noble king willing to bargain his own life over the lives of his people before each battle. He treads lightly politically and in battle. Sacrificing human life only when necessary. And it becomes necessary when he crosses paths with the Dauphin (Heir apparent to Throne of France) played by Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter, Twilight). The two exchange some words and a inevitably a war insues. After Henry V and the English army defeat the French in the "Battle of Agincourt" it begins a new era for England and a hope for a new United Kingdom. With a celebration of his recent conquest of France at hand, Henry is greeted with yet another betrayal. This time it is his trusted Chief Justice "William Gasgione" played by Sean Harris. After his first full length conversation with his soon to be french wife, he's informed that the supposed provocation from the French early in the film was actually orchestrated by his trusted advisor Gasgione. With no one left to trust young Henry seeks solace with his future wife the princess of France, Catherine of Valois played by Lily-Rose Depp. Now, while this film is no Gladiator, but it is deserving of being in that realm and I personally would love to see this extend into a possible Netflix series connecting some of Shakespeare's other Henriad storylines and beyond. Additionally the film features a who's who of the next generation of acting talent, with Chalamet, Pattinson, Depp and Carney. Outside of it's rushed introduction which basically skims through Henry IV: Part One and King Henry IV: Part Two cutting right to Henry V, this film is rock solid. Featuring captivating cinematography, formidable acting on all fronts as well as a fittingly cold and chilling score. The perfect blend of somberness and suspense creating what I believe to be a modern day medieval time piece that I think Shakespeare would be proud of.


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