Netflix The King Movie Review

adminNovember 27, 2019

Netflix The King Movie Review

Rating: *** (3  stars)

Impressively mounted and poised gracefully on a high  moral ground, The King is everything a historical  epic ought to be. Its earnest stab at costumed resplendence as represented in the British royalty’s penchant for  power usurpation, is  no doubt commendable.

But somewhere in the quest to remain true to history and to the historical-epic format The King falls short of breadth, opting for a more micro perception  of  a universal dilemma—to be or not to be ambitious and morally driven at the same time—where  we expected  a more  panned-out exploration  of  the  dark often  ugly politics of 15th century Britain.

The  performances too fall short of expectation.  Much as I enjoyed Timothee Chalamet’s  metamorphosis from  Beautiful Boy to Stricken King, this is not a fully realized character, the callowness  of the actor  outrunning the  inexperience  of  the royal character  he plays.Though  Chalamet  has worked very hard on his voice and  poise, the boyishness  that he exuded with such endearing nonchalance in Call Me By Your Name  doesn’t quite serve the purpose here.

As the morally conflicted  anti-war callow and inexperienced King Henry V Chalamet compares  poorly with his adversary the malevolent French Prince Louis, heir to the  French throne  played with a furiously evil design by Robert Pattinson. Whenever  Pattinson is  on screen  the frames leap up into flames  of frightening aggression.

Nowhere do we sense the same passion in Chalamet’s interaction with his  dying father King Henry 4(Ben Medelsohn) or  later with his war-monegring cabinet .As a son who can’t tolerate his father’s sloppy corrupt statesmanship Chalamet expresses  his  wrath with a studied cool that’s as Shakespearean as Justin Bieber.

Another problem is with Joel Edgerton’s Falstaff. The actor plays him with such  lipsmacking earthiness and hedonism that  it becomes  impossible to believe he can  be trusted to defend Britain against foreign invasion. Saddling the inexperienced  or the inept with epic responsibilities seems a way of life in this film.

Nonetheless  the director negotiates his way through Henry 4’s coming-of-age saga with a striking  visual and emotional  force, not unlike what we experience when reading Shakespeare aloud to an audience that may not be listening. The war scenes are  vivid , capturing the wastage of human life and  the  irrelevance  of  the carnage  in one epic sweep.

It seemed to be unfolding in a cinematic language. Except that it wasn’t cinema. This is.

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