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‘The King’ Review: Dir. David Michôd (2019) [Venezia]


Last year, Netflix brought us Outlaw King from David Mackenzie – a fun, violent historical epic – and, this year, they’re going for gold again bringing in another David – this time of David Michôd – for The King.

The eponymous king in question is Henry V (Timothée Chalamet) – a reckless, boozy prince wanting nothing to do with his regal heritage. However, when circumstances leave his father (Ben Mendelsohn) deceased, the young Henry is required to step into those big shoes and lead England. But when a feud with France arises, and its arrogant prince The Dauphin (Robert Pattinson), he must lead the charge and bring victory – and peace – to his country.

The screenplay is brilliant; Michôd, and co-writer Joel Edgerton (who also stars), weaves a plethora of Shakespeare’s plays into one taut, cohesive narrative. The dialogue is great and the script is able to mesh a handful of narratives seamlessly and anchor it with electric dialogue; it’s in the direction of said screenplay where the film feels lacklustre though. The orchestration of tone is a little misjudged, struggling to balance humour with the seriousness of the endeavour, and the action sequences seem very clunky. The production design is luscious though and it’s a stunningly shot piece too but the execution lacks a lot of personality.

The performances are pretty solid, however; Edgerton, Pattinson, and Sean Harris make up a very strong supporting cast that are clearly having fun in this world with the material they’re given. Chalamet, however, comes in a little colder. His performance feels like it belongs in an entirely different film; the handsome young actor struggles to fit in alongside this gallery of ruggish, tough men all battered and bruised. He’s watchable, as always, and his presence brings a great deal of charm with it; the thing is, he just feels miscast in this gritty, rogue world. It’s perhaps a good encapsulation of the whole experience: it’s a handsome affair that is watchable but doesn’t have the grit it needs. It’s good, it works. But it could have been better.

The King was reviewed at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a real passion for movies and for writing. I'm a superhero fanboy at heart; 'The Dark Knight' and 'Days of Future Past' are a couple of my favourites. I'm a big sci-fi fan too - 'Star Wars' has been my inspiration from the start; 'Super 8' is another personal favourite, close to my heart... I love movies. All kinds of movies. Lots of them too.


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