It isn’t a joyless trial, but The King does seem to avoid giving any slack in its search for greatness
Offering Timothée Chalemet in a light he has never previously been featured, The King is a particularly ambitious take on the series of Shakespeare plays focusing around King Henry of England. With great battles and long discussion scenes, superficially The King comes across as particularly similar to Game Of Thrones, except in reality, this is a different entity, as it opens into a detailed character piece, offering great insight into the pressure of power, outside influences, and how to react to those who oppose.
Thrust into the throne after his Father’s unexpected death, young King Hal (Timothée Chalemet) has to learn quickly as his past life as a drunk haunts the public’s view of him as King. Challenged quickly by French opposition, Hal decides to attack his foe across the sea, with assistance from those close to him in his new council, and those who have supported him in the past.
The King is a beautiful piece of film making, but away from that, it fails to excite in the way it perhaps would have with a little more impetus. Far too often does the film lean towards dialogue and theming, where action and movement were required. The King is fuelled by its energy and power seen only in the battle scenes, but that comes sparingly, especially in the early stages. Chalamet’s Hal really comes into his own when faced with battle, and during the aftermath, often clashing with director David Michôd’s style.
It isn’t a joyless trial, but The King does seem to avoid giving any slack in its search for greatness. Hal’s struggle as a king, and to understand the politics of his situation is ultimately interesting, but dramatised in such manner it fails to offer the resulting excitement a piece with more bulk would be able to offer. 2018’s Outlaw King is a particularly flawed piece of its own, but it seems to understand the balance a film of historical importance needs more than The King.
Perhaps the lack of momentum stems from high expectations, or a situational setting that offered the piece more than it was eventually able to bite off, but for at least some of it’s make up The King isn’t void of positives. An excellent cameo from Robert Pattinson, a fresh turn from Chalamet, and the aforementioned cinematography absolutely make for a piece with merit, but perhaps not the one Edgerton and Michôd promised with their initial idea.
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