BEIRUT: In times of utter political disarray and volatile men in power, Netflix’s latest film THE KING brings all that into the forefront as it dramatizes the ascension of the young King Henry V and his early days upon the throne of England.
Directed by David Michod and co-written by Michod and Joel Edgerton, the film’s take on the young king is dark, and gritty with a narrative that takes its time to develop without ever feeling lengthy or that it has overstayed its welcome.
The film opens with, Hal, played by Timothée Chalamet, wayward prince and reluctant heir to the English throne, living among the people. But when his tyrannical father dies, Hal is crowned King Henry V and is forced to embrace the life he had previously tried to escape.
Now the young king must navigate the palace politics, chaos and war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life.
What is most striking in the film is its gracious and meticulous attention to character moments that allow the audience the ability to properly emotionally connect with the characters on screen.
The risk with this, however, is that the actors on screen have to be capable of holding the audience’s attention, and the cast here is absolutely captivating.
In the lead, Academy Award nominee Timothee Chalamet brings a solid performance that grants audiences a side to his talent that we have yet to see.
Though Hal is vulnerable and emotionally driven, there is a brutality to Chalamet’s personification as well, to which he exhibits a bit of machismo as well.
Chalamet expands his range and digs deep into his character’s core proving that he is capable of playing more than just a broody, lovesick young man for here he is a true warrior and a king.
Joel Edgerton plays Hal’s closest friend and mentor, the aging alcoholic knight, John Falstaff, and embodies the soulful heart of the film.
Visually, director of photography Adam Arkapaw really sets the tone for the film through his use of the camera and more importantly light.
The film is arthouse level magnificent in the way that it is filmed.
Arkapaw doesn’t shy away from shrouding moments in shadow only using candles as his source of light, and does so more powerfully than the lackluster attempts in Game of Thrones.
Ideologically, the film tackles many issues including the weight that one carries when wearing the crown, the emotional and mental consequences of battle, and most importantly and a truth that is sometimes ignored, the path to peace is not an easy one.
The focus in this period piece is not on spectacle but rather the human characters and their arcs – in many ways, it’s a film that is structured on two characters in a location having a conversation, and it’s perfect.
Though Netflix films have been hit or miss and the conversation surround their inclusion in the Oscar race has been very divisive, THE KING is definitely a hit and should have no objections in garnering Oscar nods on many fronts.
THE KING is now streaming on NETFLIX.
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