I would like to preface this by saying that under usual circumstances, this is probably not a film I would be inclined to watch, however, as a result of my undying love for Robert Pattinson, I have been somewhat anticipating the release of The King since watching its trailer. And whilst my love for Robert remains strong, I think I was correct in presuming that this type of film isn’t really my cup of tea. Though don’t get confused into thinking I am saying this is a bad film, it isn’t – at the worst, it is average, and in some aspects, rather good.
The film follows “Hal” (Timothée Chalamet), son of King Henry IV, and his sudden ascension to the throne to become King Henry V of England. Intent on having a much less violent reign than his father, Hal starts out gentle, but after some pushing from his closest advisors, he is forced to declare war on France. Based on multiple plays in Shakespeare’s Henriad, the film isn’t historically accurate, which was obvious enough when watching it.
Personally, I found the half-hearted Shakespearean language jarring, and the script, which was slightly lacking, didn’t make up for it. I thought the development and coming-of-age of Hal could have been fleshed out more, but instead we saw him go from the 15th century’s version of a party boy to a war-waging king almost at the flick of a switch. Nonetheless, Chalamet’s acting was definitely the strong point of this film. Timothée has proved that he is an incredibly skilled actor before now and he doesn’t fail to showcase this talent here. Sporting an English accent and noble look, he makes a convincing king; his screen presence is compelling and domineering, even when he isn’t speaking. Whether that is due to his good looks or transfixing stare, I don’t know. But Chalamet’s acting isn’t the only one worthy or praise: Pattinson’s appearance as the Dauphin of France, although brief, added to the film, even if it was simply through a bit of comic relief with his laughable French accent and some well executed lines. But more importantly, Joel Edgerton’s character Falstaff, Hal’s closest friend, was done perfectly, with Edgerton simply melting into the role.
The King started off slow and, in my opinion, was a bit too long, but the last 40 minutes or so, containing a gripping sequence of the Battle of Agincourt, proved rather enjoyable. If I was to watch a Netflix original, which The King is, a little over a year ago, I undoubtedly would have entered the film with low expectations (justified or not). But since watching Roma – a fantastic Oscar-nominated Netflix release of last year, I have gained more confidence in Netflix as a production company and believed this film had the potential to be decent, which it is. If you enjoy medieval films, this is definitely worth a watch, but if you’re like me and like your films to have some chunky character development, I doubt you’d be singing its praises.