FILM REVIEW - The King
By The Masked Medic
I’ve not been watching very many films recently, and those that I have, I rarely have time to review formally. However, last night my family sat down to watch ‘The King’ on Netflix and I thought it would be a good one to write something on. In the past few years, Netflix has been ramping up the quality of their films and also the subjects as well. Gone are the days when they were exclusively producing teen romcoms with low budgets. They clearly mean business now!
‘The King’ sees the English King, Henry IV, attempt to quell small rebellions against the Scottish and Welsh, whilst he is unwell. His desire to choose a successor proves easy for him, as his eldest son, also named Henry, has long abandoned desire for the throne and spends his days drinking. However, when the King sends his younger son, Thomas, to do battle with the preemption that Thomas will take the throne, Prince Henry, also known as Hal, attempts to intervene to stop the bloodshed. Despite his brother’s advice, Thomas marches ahead and is slain and when Henry IV passes a few days later, young Prince Henry ascends becoming King Henry V. Desperate to prove that he’s a different ruler than his father, Henry acts graciously during the start of his reign. However, after his advisors catch a French assassin and his court is infiltrated by whispers of his weakness from the French King, Charles, Henry is left with a difficult decision. His desire to be just and to rule with peace is thrown into doubt and Henry decides that he will go to war with France in response to the disrespect he has felt from the French King. He recruits his old friend, John Falstaff to be a general in his army and to provide him with wise counsel. Upon reaching France, the English army begins to lay siege to a French castle. Henry is advised after a few days to march upon the castle, but he is reluctant to sacrifice the lives of his men, for an unknown victory. Low and behold, the occupants of the castle surrender and Henry is filled with confidence that he has won his first battle. He’s then approached by the Crown Prince of France who tells Henry to go back and surrender. Adamant that he will continue, the two forces battle and Henry is victorious and marches on to accept the surrender of King Charles of France. But in this haze, just who has been pulling the strings? And can Henry remain the just ruler he wishes to be?
So this was probably the first movie I’ve seen with Timothée Chalamet and I have to say, I think he put in an excellent performance. There has been a lot of hype around him for a while and I was reluctant to believe it, but I have to say I was impressed. For a young actor, he has depth to his ability and I think he’s an actor that people will be talking about for a while. It makes me excited to watch him in Dune later this week! I also need to give a shoutout to both Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris who play John Falstaff and Sir William Gascoigne respectively. I’ve seen Edgerton, here and there in a few things, and although his character doesn’t have an excessive amount of lines, his performance is nuanced and intriguing. Sean Harris is clearly a very good actor, but in the few roles I’ve seen him in, he always plays these shrewd characters. He plays them very well, but I wonder if he’s been typecast. One of the smaller performances, but a memorable one, is that of Robert Pattinson, who plays Louis, The Dauphin who is the heir to the French throne. I did not expect him to be able to pull off a French accent but he does it well!
It’s a little ironic that I’m writing some of these thoughts given that the last review I just did was for a comic book that was all about kingdoms, castles and battles and I stated that I didn’t enjoy that material. With this film, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought that despite not having an extravagant plot, the film was done very well, and that is more likely as a result of the quality of the acting. I have said that I was not expecting the film to be phenomenal given that it was produced by Netflix, but clearly, all this money that we’re paying them to watch their streaming material is going somewhere productive. I had heard that there were criticisms of the film as the film diverged from both historical and from its Shakespearean origins, but I did not deem that to be that big of an issue. Many of the divergences led to good moments and entertaining characters to watch in the film, so in that sense, the film did well. My only criticism is that the third act seemed quite rushed which was a shame given that I felt the rest of the film was well-paced.
I have mentioned Netflix’s increasingly large budget on these films and it was clear that this was a step above their usual. Some of the scenes in which the English army is besieging the French Castle were done well as was the final battle. Some excellent shots are captured in the quieter moments of the film too and I think the filmmakers have a lot to be proud of. The music, however, was almost a non-existent aspect of the film and I thought it let down the entire production. Granted, given the topic of the film, music did not need to be a major factor, but soundtracks can often elevate big scenes and here, unfortunately, the film faltered. Overall, I thought this was a decent watch with some impressive acting performances and good cinematography. Perhaps I will give Netflix films a chance now!