The expectation when you read a title for a movie named “The King” its quite likely you fantasise of the medieval times of swords clanging on chain-mail in wars of pride and honour, you see knights galloping on horses, priests and lords looking (word) in their garments and at the top of that hierarchy at the epicenter of that kingdom that’s fighting off or waging war on some foe is a great king. You could be thinking of maybe Charlie Hunnam in King Arthur. Man of about thirty right? With a face that looked like it was carved from marble, a beard that exudes assurance, some massive build and deeply etched eyes that have witnessed hundreds of battles.
Thing is though, this king is slightly a bit different.
Adapted from different takes of literature such as Henry IV and Henry V by Shakespeare it is not a faithful replica. The King is an intimate film that portrays England on the cusp of change. It’s current king, Henry IV has thrown the land into civil unrest with his prospects of war both within and outside it’s borders, however his deteriorating health finally takes him, and the need to prove himself takes his second son assumed air, Thomas of Lancaster (Dean-Charles Chapman). The throne, in a hastily portrayed sequence is then thrown upon the eldest, uninterested son Hal, Prince of Wales to become Henry V, King of England.
The film’s mood is dark and foreboding, the cast small but filled with talent that do well to portray the unnerving situation that Henry has found himself, his only friend Sir John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton) is seen ambling along in drunken stupors then after a brief stint alone he becomes Henry’s advisor as they go to war. The film does not have much in the way in regard of action, such as the Princes fight with Harry Hotspur (Tom Glynn-Carney), it is short and lacks excitement nor does the Battle of Agincourt carry excitement and chills but this is subjugated by a sense of reality, the battle shows how a fight would have panned out in heavy armour and the strain it holds on the wearer, while the battle wasn’t just shiny armour and glory, it was muddy, clumsy, blood ridden and an ugly affair.
I think it justified to say Timothee Chalamet did an outstanding job of portraying this new king. Tasked with the duty of portraying a, womanizing, drunken boy who ascends to the throne and faces an enemy, the Dauphin of France (Robert Pattinson)- with a mad but entertaining French accent. Timothee with a build to match the characters boyish nature and a face to exude his regal stature. From his dress to the nonchalant flowing black curls changed to a bowl cut, Prince Hal’s change in appearance and behaviour shows the change from boy to man, now just by expression alone you feel him thinking, you feel him contemplate the weight upon his shoulders, the expressions of anger and loneliness portrayed so eloquently he draws you in. He speaks low and seriously, he doesn’t say too much nor too little, the role fits him like a glove.
Like Henry’s demeanor, the storyline has more within it than what it simply shows. Unlike his war crazed father the new king wants peace, but conversation with his sister alludes to the prospect of others close to him, they have their own agendas and motives. In this role as king he is alone, surrounded by people he cannot trust. The conversation with his sister is short and dismissive but it speaks volumes to the story right till the end.
In most movies of this nature a king is portrayed as strong and unwavering no matter the instance, with his enemy across him with a sword and army of his own. This is different, this is a boy becoming a king while his government is just as treacherous as the battlefield. His wife to be depicts him as a rash young boy riled up by the slightest offense, wallowing in the most minute of victories. With his victories the film shows his mistakes, with grandeur of royalty it shows its dangers. This film doesn’t portray what a king is, it portrays how an ordinary boy turns into king of a powerful nation, it portrays how one becomes The King.