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THE KING gets 7/10 Heads will roll


Directed by David Michôd

Starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Pattinson

7/10

The politics and battle tactics of monarchies at war in the 15th century is explored in this well produced, entertainingly written, though slightly monotonous film, which verges on Shakespearean at times (after all, it does draw inspiration from his Henriad plays), but mostly keeps itself reigned in a hardened realism.

Hal (Timothée Chalamet) is crowned King Henry V and he declares more than once he is nothing like his predecessor, but he must persist with the war his father had previously overseen, fighting alongside his countrymen. His initial one-on-one fight scene is brilliant in its metal-clanking brutality. Just this one short moment is more exciting than the climactic battle scene, which showcases some admirably bloody, muddy, and forceful fighting, but this battle unfortunately doesn’t feel wholly realistic – it just looks like armoured knights randomly swinging their swords and fists around.

It’s the build-up to the battles that is actually more exciting, as the politics is first discussed and argued over, then the logistics of how the English will engage is then pondered (“if it rains, we fight tomorrow” declares King Henry, taking the battlefield muddiness into consideration). Across most of the film’s 140 minute run-time, the dialogue is spoken at almost the same register, a slightly above hushed tone, making some of it a tad inaudible – at least you can rewind on Netflix or use subtitles, where it’s getting a release.

Its detailed production feels very lived in, and there’s plenty of close-ups of the soldiers that gets the eyes focusing on their armour, with the differing helmets seeming to reflect each person that’s inside it.

There isn’t much of a powerful overall message to The King, though each of its inspections into the inner-workings of this 15th century monarchy may have a handful of surprising revelations as to how a King conducts himself and how the consequences of his actions continue to shape this conduct. For fans of dialogue-driven films, particularly with dialogue scribed in this dramatic fashion, The King is a political film with a lot to invest in as you’re drawn into it, but won’t offer a whole lot to be left with.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

The King is screening at The Backlot from Fri, Oct 11 (buy tickets here) and will be released on Netflix Nov 1.

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