David Michôd’s The King begins in a sloppy mess full of actors giving pantomime-like performances, especially two actors. That being Dean-Charles Chapman and Ben Mendelsohn – absolutely horrific and laughable. Chapman screams and shouts in the most child-like-obviously-acting (terribly) way, whilst Mendelsohn phones in any ounce of past talent to nothing more than a few actorly expressions and a terrible wig.
It started laughable, but all is nearly forgiven when Timothee Chalamet and Joel Edgerton fully show up and take centre stage, they are incredible. The drastic change from the pantomime staging to a serious character driven war film is a little shocking, but you get used to it.
Young Henry V (Timothee Chalamet) encounters deceit, war and treachery after becoming King of England in the 15th century. When we first meet him, Henry has been living a seperate life, distancing himself away from his father, King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn). Flstaff (Joel Edgerton), was a soldier, but now a friend to the soon-to-be king. Henry V tasks Flstaff to work alongside him, as his only trusted friend, he needs some trust as his world is tossed into a mishmash of chaos. His brother Thomas (Dean-Charles Chapman) and father die, he is soon forced to become the King. Not long after, the King finds himself in a battle against France, led by The Dauphin (Robert Pattinson).
Undoutably, The King is a beautifully visualised piece of cinema, Michôd does an excellent job directing. His direction draws no attention, his framing captures the inwards nature of Chalamet’s unease and the instability of the surround world and characters. However, occasionally it lacks in script, with some schlocky dialogue here and there. Specifically, the opening ten minutes are rife with horrific dialogue played terribly by its actors (mentioned prior).
Timothee Chalamet shimmers, he is fantastic as King Henry V. He captures and elevates Edgerton’s (normally) ace writing to a standard that keeps on rising. Chalamet gets better and better, evolving into a completely different entity by the end. You are able to put belief into the idea that perhaps this could really be a king, his delivery adds to that sincerity of Michôd’s later-half vision. Edgerton is mesmerising, hilarious and trusting, he is perhaps the heart and soul of the picture, adding a sense of humour and levity to the otherwise extremely serious story.
The King is a beautifully brooding film that starts weak and finds great footing, mainly down to Chalamet and Edgerton’s performances, they rule completely and allow for the forgetting of Mendelsohn and Chapman’s futile pantomime-like roles.
THE KING premiered at VENICE & is playing at the BFI London Film Festival NOW
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