The more we see from Timothée Chalamet, the more we are captivated by his performances. The King is a medieval-themed movie based on several plays from William Shakespeare’s “Henriad”. Chalamet plays as Hal, a wayward prince, who ascends the English Throne as Henry V upon his father’s death, and must navigate the palace snake pit of inherited war and chaos. In the beginning of the film, Hal is portrayed as a wild party lad that’s drinking and merry-making in Eastcheap. Chalamet looks like the tall, thin, scrawny, mischievous kid that doesn’t have a care in the world.
You would not describe Chalamet as handsome, he is breath taking. The King gives him one of the most challenging roles in his career, however when you take someone who looks like Chalamet and give him the role of a young king, it isn’t anymore a question of how ambitious the role is but the film really gives light to what Chalamet can do. He might even be the biggest star of his generation. In The King, this is where Chalamet perfectly shows us that he’s not only crazy talented but also has that power to attract the audience’s gaze to him even when there isn’t much going on. He could be staring off into a distance and it would still feel all the same amount of significance.
Seeing the title of the film, it gives you a sense of maturity of someone who is in power, a big strong figure that is a king. But the fact that someone as young-looking as Chalamet as a king was such an experiment. The film was set in about the 15th century, where people didn’t really have much of a lifespan, Henry V died at the age of 35.
The way the film depicted monarchy was the absolute best. Instead of taking Chalamet as a prince to a king in a whole royal celebratory way, the movie really showed the psychological side of all of it. Where a young prince needs to be the face of a kingdom without knowing anything and being guided by all these ordinary people in a castle. Such a challenging message to portray but the film did just that.
Hal, our strong-willed prince, has a bit of a difficult relationship with his father (Ben Mendelsohn). He knows him as a tyrannical king that has an addiction to war. The older Henry is dying and his long rule of taking over other kingdom’s is about to end. He then calls his son to the court and says that even though Hal is the eldest son, he will not be succeeding him on the throne. For obvious reasons that they do not have a good relationship and that Hal doesn’t want to continue his father’s ruling of bloodshed.
David Michôd hasn’t been making much of a name for himself with Animal Kingdom and War Machine, but he has definitely made The King into a fancy dark film that truly catches your attention. The script was also exceptional, written by Michôd and Joel Edgerton, with all that Shakespearian edge that we enjoy. Henry, now in position, is in an environment full of tyranny. The Dauphin of France sends him a child’s call as a present, the schemers say that it could be a provocation. Enough to start a war, when Henry resists, he is then targeted by an assassin and this is where everything turns on the young king. He doesn’t want to go to war but nobody is giving him a choice.
A lot of movies with these themes tend to be more of an action blood bath but the way the movie was made definitely portrayed the brutal consequences of war and shed all the fantasy in medieval settings. Henry is overwhelmed with the fight going on around him, but despite the death around him, what hits Henry the most is that even when victory has been attained, he finally accepts that war can indeed be tamed.
But never defeated. It will always be evident in our world.