Friday, October 4, 2019

Film Review: The King (A-)

A long planned holiday to New York City for my birthday in late September turned out to be fortuitous as one of my favorite actors was having a North American premiere of his latest film, The King on October 1st. With the surprise premiere announced just a week before my holiday, my original plans were to leave NYC on October 1st, but there was just no way I could leave town and miss seeing a film I was highly excited to see. So, after confirming an invite to said premiere, I added an extra night at the hotel, and rescheduled my departing flight. I feel a sense of  "professional fan" obligation to make myself available for this unique opportunity, and demonstrate my commitment to covering public events of Timothée Chalamet that I can legitimately attend if logistics and access allow. Those are two key elements moving forward in covering Timmy at his events. With that said, I've had my fill of standing along the red carpet for Timmy, and I'm going to retire from the red carpet after Toronto and New York. I'll continue to cover public Timmy events in many other ways, but trust, I will be at events I can attend in measured doses for years to come.

Timothée Chalamet was pre-destined to portray the boy king, King Henry V 'Hal' of England. Hal is Timmy's middle name, a unique name of German origins for a young man of Jewish-French heritage. As the oldest son of a dying Henry IV, Prince Hal is reluctantly thrust onto the throne after his father dies, and angry that his younger brother died in an ill coordinated battle of hubris. Committed to not being a warmongerer like his father, King Hal wants peace, he's a pacifist. However, insidious palace politics long in the making force the hand of this young king after a failed assassination attempt from the French. Or so that's what it seems. Not knowing whom to trust, Hal relies on his devoted friendship with Sir John Falstaff, gloriously played by screenwriter Joel Edgerton. Taunted and disrespected by The Dauphin of France, played by Robert Pattinson, Hal makes way to France.

Aussie director David Michôd took some creative liberties with the Shakespearean Henriad plays to make a brilliantly coarse and tense medieval political film that modern audiences can make correlations to today's politics. The Battle of Agincourt was particularly brutal and executed with using wide and up close camera views to make it suffocatingly close for the viewer to feel the intimate horror of that battle. After all the deaths in the wet mud, Hal comes to learn through the wise words of his future wife, Catherine, played by Lily-Rose Depp, that his haste to war mirrored his own father's cruelty without thought and care, will he be just like the former King? Enlightened about a political betrayal revelation, King Hal delivers swift judgment in a brilliant finale with William, played by the outstanding Sean Harris.

Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V | Image: Netflix

Chalamet brings to life a reluctant young King who truly commands his people and army with a strong voice and presence. There are several scenes where Chalamet speaks French, and uses his voice and tone with believable righteousness to protect and defend England. The British should be proud of this American boy doing justice to a favorite old King. The film could have used an extra 20 minutes to give more development of the behind the scenes dirty politics to present the viewer with more insight because the reveal near the end begs for more background on that issue. Overall, The King is an enchantingly exciting film on medieval England and its battles with France.

Grade: A-

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