The King review round-up: Timothée Chalamet packs in 'star charisma' in a film 'with nothing new, insightful about royalty'

FP Staff

Sep 03, 2019 09:06:07 IST

Amid mounting anticipation, Timothée Chalamet's latest film The King opened at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. The first critics' reviews are tumbling in. While critics have unanimously praised the Call Me By Your Name star for his performance, they have had differing opinions on the film itself.

Directed by War Machine helmer David Michod, the film is based on classic Shakespeare plays Henry The IV and Henry V, and follows a young, disgraced prince Hal (Chalamet), who inherits the crown at a particularly turbulent time in English history, and must learn what it means to be a king, guided by his one true friend, Falstaff (Joel Edgerton).

 The King review round-up: Timothée Chalamet packs in star charisma in a film with nothing new, insightful about royalty

Timothée Chalamet in a still from The King. YouTube

Robert Pattinson plays French prince The Dauphin, while Lily-Rose Depp, the 19-year-old daughter of Hollywood star Johnny Depp, will portray French Princess Catherine, who goes on to marry Henry V. The film also stars Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Tom Glynn-Carney of Dunkirk-fame, and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie of Leave No Trace-frame.

Here's what the critics have been saying about the film

Variety notes that Chalamet packs in oodles of "star charisma" in an "sprawling yet intimate" royal court historical drama. "War is never glamorized in The King. That’s where the movie is different from, say, Braveheart. Too many movies set in this period end up as action films in medieval drag...The excitement of The King is that Michôd lays out the consequences of combat with gruesome precision, demythologizing the battle," writes the publication.

IndieWire opines that despite aiming to be a "mud-and-guts epic about inherited violence and the corruption of power", The King "has nothing especially new or insightful to say on the subject." The publication says, "Michôd, commanding a production that may have been too large and unwieldy for him to steer with his usual precision, displays little of the demented genius that made The Rover so much fun, and little of the steely patience that made Animal Kingdom so agonizingly tense. The Battle of Agincourt promises to be a perfect venue for him to show off his chops, but it ends up feeling like a miniature model of the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones." However, the reviewer praised Chalamet's work, writing that while the film may not be a "crowning glory" in itself, but it sure proves that the actor's "rule has just begun."

According to The Guardian, The King is a "bruising adaptation. It says, "... having begun as a careful, over-studied attempt to make a naturalistic period picture (guttering candles; the occasional pustule), The King deepens and darkens, and gathers momentum, to the point where one finally becomes drawn into the drama."

The Hollywood Reporter says that the film, "through a modern anti-war lens is subtle, not strident, and never lifts the viewer out of the period." The publication lauds Chalamet's work in the movie, adding that the "visual scheme of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw's muted, almost desaturated color palette and meticulously measured camerawork, and the production and costume designs of Fiona Crombie and Jane Petrie, respectively, provide early 15th century period authenticity with minimal fuss."

The Wrap notes, "The King isn’t going to supplant Shakespeare’s version of these events, nor the legendary screen adaptations of it from (Kenneth) Branagh, (Laurence) Olivier, (Orson) Welles, (Gus) Van Sant and others. But Edgerton and Michôd find ways to keep their film in period-appropriate language (“I welcome your umbrage!”) while also challenging the rah-rah belligerence that has made the tale so popular among war propagandists."

The Vanity Fair also praised Chalamet as the "actor-iest young actor of them all at the moment" in their review of The King. However, they say that the movie "suffers from a larger why problem. Without the Shakespearean language, this is just an ahistorical story about a king and a battle. We’ve had plenty of those before, and little about Michôd’s direction distinguishes his film from a host of others—like, say, last year’s Netflix festival entry, Outlaw King."

The King will begin streaming on Netflix on 1 November.

Updated Date: Sep 03, 2019 09:06:07 IST