Review | Timothée Chalamet is reluctant to become ‘The King’

The King | Dir: David Michôd | ★ ★ ★ ★  ½ 

Derived loosely from Shakespeare’s trilogy of plays, it shows how the reluctant heir to the English throne Prince Hal (Timothée Chalamet who was in the 2017 film Call Me By Your Name) is forced to become King Henry V after his tyrannical father King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn).

After disagreements with his father, Hal had chosen to live among the people. It was his younger brother Thomas (Dean-Charles Chapman) who their father intended to pass on the throne but the events of history conspired to change this arrangement before King Henry IV died.

An extremely cinematographic Chalamet captures the sensitive intensity as young Hal inherits the chaos that his father has left behind and tries to find peaceful solutions. However, the early 15th century was a particularly violent time as Britain and France fought over supremacy for one hundred years.

Central to the film is Hal’s relationship with ageing knight Sir John Falstaff (a bulked up Joel Egerton who wrote the screenplay with the director and also helped produce the film). Warning Hal that that killing leaves an indelible stain on the soul, Falstaff continues to advise him when he becomes king, contrary to Shakespeare’s tale.

Described as Shakespeare meets Game of Thrones, the battle scenes are highlights of the film. The siege of Harfleur has giant flame-throwing catapults bombing the castle and the muddy Battle of Agincourt where the English overthrew the numerically superior French army are brilliantly choreographed and filmed.

Robert Pattinson’s bizarre portrayal of mentally unstable the heir to the French throne is rather unsettling as is his French accent. Lily-Rose Depp fares much better as the bi-lingual daughter of the French king who becomes betrothed to Henry V.

The King launches on Netflix on November 1 but can be seen on the big screen at The Backlot in West Perth on Wednesday October 16 at 10.30 am and 6.00 pm. Go to Backlot Studios for tickets.

Lezly Herbert