The King, starring Hollywood’s favourite soft boys Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V and Robert Pattinson as Prince Louis, le Dauphin of France is Netflix’s latest blockbuster. Co-written by film director David Michôd and actor Joel Edgerton, as well as produced by Brad Pitt, The King is an on-screen reinterpretation of William Shakespeare’s Henry V, a play from his Henriad tetralogy.
The film is the story of a young man’s quest for himself amidst the diplomacy and war conflict of interests and responsibilities that have fallen upon his head as King of England. As Hal confesses upon his rise to the English throne: ‘I can feel the weight of this crown I wear’.
The storyline presents a Hobbesian, Machiavellian plot as Hal constantly questions the loyalty of his counsellors that lead him into the battlefield against his will. As he strives for peace and conciliation in his kingdom after his father’s reign, filled with civil unrest, war and bloodshed, finally came to end, Hal finds himself under the pressure of his royal counsellors to trigger a war against the kingdom of France. Hal is thoroughly repulsed by the art of warfare practiced by the men who surround him, who ultimately betray him. Hal, in his quest for a sense of achievement as King Henry V proves to be one of England’s greatest kings as he forges peace in his kingdom, unlike his warrior father.
This is what ultimately inspired Director David Michôd and co-writer and actor, Joel Edgerton to make this film. As Joel Edgerton exclusively revealed to Strand Magazine on this years BFI London Film Festival red carpet: “Well, the whole reason we’re here is sort of my fault, because, I did the plays, Henry IV when I was 24/25 years old, and they’ve been swirling round in my brain and in my heart for such a long time. Then as I grew up and I started to get opportunities, and I’m very forward in trying to get my own things out there, and tell my own story, I wondered what it would be like to make a movie of Henry IV, and that’s when the conversation started with David [director]”.
Regarding the interest in the era of Henry IV, Edgerton added: “There was also something so interesting in there about the fact that Henry was 26 when he became king, he probably wasn’t even 26 yet – when I was 26 I could hardly make my own breakfast, let alone run a country. So that idea of an ideological young mind coming into a seat of power saying ‘I’m going to do things differently’, I can presume that changed the system and systems don’t get changed really easily. That’s a reflection on a lot of modern politics too, today you get a lot of younger people aiming to make a change and run companies but on a political scale that hasn’t quite happened yet. There’s always been this sense that younger people learn wisdom from older people, but I think it’s important to understand that young people have as much to teach older people and if that happens on a political scale that would be great.”
Timothée Chalamet portrays Prince Hal majestically. The force of his chameleonic acting ability is truly outstanding in "The King". His portrayal of King Henry V in his youth bring a tour de force to his career after his Award nominated performances in "Beautiful Boy" (2018), "Lady Bird" (2017) and "Call Me by Your Name" (2017). He dominates the character’s gloominess and melancholia as well as his courage, bravery and strength with magnetic power. The way in which Timothée Chalamet feels his character’s quest to find himself is candidly hypnotic. His portrayal of King Henry V could easily place him on this year’s Academy Awards race. The chemistry with his supposed real-life lover, Lily Rose Depp is captivating as she gives a strong and powerful performance as Princess Catherine although her on-screen appearance is quite short-lived and leaves the spectator wanting more interactions between the pair. Robert Pattinson gives a thrilling performance as le Dauphin, mastering his character’s twisted thirst for war as well as his French eloquence, that is one to remember. The actors rendition of some of the most iconic characters in the history of England is only heightened by the cinematography of Adam Arkapaw, who masterfully assembles every shot of the movie into a master painting in movement.
Edited by Andriani Scordellis, Film Editor