The King – I just can’t wait to be king
Adapted from Shakespeare, David Michôd’s
second film for Netflix is a historical fresco
carried by Thimothée Chalamet. Explanations.
By Lisa Muratore
Reading time 5 min.
Timothée Chalamet is unstoppable, Call me by Your Name’s rising star, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. The 23 French-American actor is now starring a medieval epic about power struggles. He plays the part of Hal, son of a king who rejected the crown responsibilities to spend his life with parties, alcohol and women. His depravity makes his reputation, his father considering him as unable to rule, preferring his younger son as an heir. But destiny had decided otherwise. Hal will end up on a throne becoming the noble Henry V of England. He is given a country rotten by conflicts over territories, where betrayal is power. Even when this idealist claims his father’s wars are not his own, he will quickly figure out the trap that is the crown.
The gloomy colors, in grey scales, in David Michôd’s film puts us in a grim medieval mood in which the esthetic and human darkness emanates from three Shakespeare plays (Henry IV part 1 and 2, Henry V). Theatrical influences can often be felt in the Australian director’s work (War Machine, Animal Kingdom…).
David Michôd, nous plonge dans une ambiance médiévale à la noirceur scénographique et humaine.
Guided by shady counselors, Henry V is embedded in a useless war against France (in the middle of the hundred years’ war). And it is not its only battle as the young king adjusts to his new title, faces his own reputation and tries to become the king he wishes to be.
This internal struggle is mastered by Timothée Chalamet : pale and gaunt face, monotone voice. The actor takes us away (a bit too much) in his existential crisis. While Robert Pattinson, acting as the Dauphin of France, perverse and condescending. A high potential character never able to affirm his charisma. Blame on the accents, an issue for us French. Henry V speaks a perfect French. Catherine de Valois, Dauphine of France (Lily-Rose Depp), a perfect English. Her brother, Louis de Guyenne (Pattinson), has clearly skipped the accent lessons. Finally Falstaff character (once magnified as a tragic fool by Orson Welles) is finely acted by Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, Boy Erased, Loving…), who wrote himself this old and tired moving warrior, epic component to a movie that needing breathe.
Epic film lacking dynamic
Indeed, this feature film is built around a peculiar paradox : the direction is sometimes uselessly long while the editing cuts out scenes that are essentials to follow the intrigue. Luckily, the final battle scene is reaching the expectations as the movie’s climax. You can feel the armors weight, the choking bodies dried by the fight, close the famous Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones. It feels like the resemblance between the two was a powerful plea to convince Netflix. Willing to take, as any online streaming services, anything seemingly close the classic tv-show. They even rewrote the Battle of Agincourt, specialists say.
You should mainly watch the king for Edgerton and Chalamet performances, breaking the slow rhythm of the film.