It's Not Easy Being King
At odds with his father’s (Henry IV) tyrannical policies and actions, the wayward Prince of Wales spends his time avoiding any responsibilities. After all, he’s still young and prefers drinking and partying with his friends, especially John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton). Although Hal (Timothée Chalamet), is heir to the throne, his father (Ben Mendelsohn) informs him that position will not go to him, but to his younger brother instead.
However, The King focuses on the changes in Hal’s behavior after he does indeed become Henry V, sometimes called the “Warrior King.” Hal earns that nickname because of his surprising military victory against France at the bloody -- and muddy -- 1415 Battle of Agincourt, where Henry’s forces are outnumbered by the French army.
Before that famous battle begins, Hal offers to fight the French Dauphin (Robert Pattinson) hand-to-hand instead of losing so many soldiers, but the Dauphin refuses. Fact check -- in real life, the Dauphin did not take part in the important battle, but the movie version benefits immensely from this bit of dramatic license. Pattinson inhabits that character with every nerve in his body.
Fans of previous Henry V portrayals on screen might be disappointed because the rousing “Band of Brothers” speech before the Agincourt battle is missing. But Chalamet’s Henry delivers one almost as stirring. Also, because filmmakers wanted to give the film a you-are-there feel, many of the scenes appear poorly lit, so it’s sometimes difficult to see what’s happening on screen.
It’s interesting to note than when Hal is crowned King, he even looks different. His long, unruly locks are shorn, leaving him with a kind of crewcut. Amazingly, Chalamet definitely resembles Henry V in a portrait from that period.
Soon after the coronation, one of his advisors tells Henry V that an assassin -- sent from France to kill him -- has been captured. This leads to Agincourt and to Henry V learning much later about a devastating secret concerning that assassin.
He does not want to be the King.
But fate steps in, a crown to bring.
England in peace becomes his goal
unifying the country whole.
France interrupts these worthy plans.
Sacrifice -- Henry understands.
Dishonesty he can’t abide.
Has he been taken for a ride?
Timothée Chalamet is fine.
His voice and diction simply shine.
Robert Pattinson as Dauphin?
Supporting Oscar he might win.
Joel Edgerton cast as Falstaff
avoids playing him for a laugh.
Serious business all around.
A dark historic movie crowned.
(Released by Netlix and rated “R” by MPAA.)
Director: David Michôd
Writers: Joel Edgerton and David Michôd