Sitting down for The King, a 2019 historical drama based on three of William Shakespeare's plays from "Henriad", I didn't have high hopes for it. Directed by David Michôd, written by Michôd and Joel Edgerton, starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Robert Pattinson, and Ben Mendelsohn, I had hoped the movie would be enjoyable and then forgettable. Being proven wrong was a pleasant surprise.
As the name suggests, the film revolves around Henry, Prince of Wales (called "Hal" by his close friends) is the emotionally distant eldest and wastrel son of King Henry IV of England and the trials and tribunals he faces on the way to becoming a king. With the death of his father, the fun-loving prince is at once plunged into a quagmire of court politics, intrigue and deception.
Despite being adamant that he would not walk the same path as his war and bloodshed-loving father, Hal finds it increasingly difficult to keep his rule peaceful. At one point, swayed by the insistence of his court, he launches a war campaign on France, appointing his trusted friend Falstaff as his marshal.
Timothée Chalamet, who first rose to fame as the fresh faces and demure protagonist of romantic drama Call Me by Your Name (2017), gives a hauntingly dark and brooding face to Hal. The way the young, naïve prince evolves into a jaded, seemingly ruthless ruler at the end of the movie tugs on the heartstrings of the viewers. Falstaff, played by Joel Edgerton, remains a powerful presence throughout the movie, acting as a cornerstone of Hal's sanity and conscience. Robert Pattinson skillfully plays the role of a deranged prince of France, while Lily-Rose Depp, a princess of France swiftly slides into role of Hal's confidant that Falstaff vacates.
The Netflix movie garnered attention from critics and received an 84 percent audience score on the review site Rotten Tomatoes. While it might not be everyone's cup of tea, it sure is one hell of a treat for those who are looking for an emotionally engrossing tale.