“Promise must be fulfilled, promise cannot be an end itself.” In “The King,” this is said by Sean Harris’ character, William Chief Justice, to King Henry V of England, played by Timothée Chalamet.
The sentiment for the line of dialogue is one that can be universally applied and even applied to “The King” itself.
The one thing I dislike most about films is what films promise to the viewer. This often shows through in trailers.
Trailers are essentially a promise from the filmmakers that what they are showing you is what you are going to see in the film.
This is true; however, most of us know trailers can be misleading. Naturally, this can lead to apprehension. When I first saw the trailer for “The King,” apprehension is what I felt.
The trailer is really good. I wanted the promise of a really good film fulfilled. “The King” fulfills this promise. To be more accurate, Chalamet fulfills this promise.
Chalamet has been a wonderful up and coming actor and a joy to watch on screen. “The King” may well become my favorite performance of his. Currently, that honor falls to “Call Me By Your Name.” Although, “Hot Summer Nights” should get an honorable mention.
Chalamet is somberly brutal in his turn as King Henry V and is as convincing as an actor can be in a role like this. The version of King Henry V that
Chalamet puts together in “The King” is a reluctant but accepting king who fears the downsides of war and betrayal from within.
The actor brings presence to the role and a type of presence only he could bring. The best part of Chalamet’s performance is the interaction with other characters. He gives scenes over to other people but if Chalamet is in the scene he is the only one you are paying attention to.
This is a feat because some of the supporting performances are just as good.
Sean Harris for one.
Harris’ William Chief Justice is perfect as the friendly foe from within. He has wonderful scenes advising King Henry V and poignant lines that pack a punch. Harris’ voice is distinctive and gives the character a mentor feel to King Henry V, even though mentoring King Henry is only half of the characters’ goals
William Chief Justice is your typical Medieval period piece villain. The type of villain who is manipulating people for their own goals.
The perfect compliment to the type of King Henry V is in “The King.”
The cinematography of the film is top notch and if you are not a Chalamet fan the setting and war scenes are especially good for a period piece. Although the battle has shades of the “Battle of the Bastards” from Game of Thrones, it should not be held against “The King.”
There are some downsides to “The King.” For one, the pace for many could be seen as a hindrance.
There are many films nowadays that use a somber or slower pace in the film and in “The King” it works wonderfully with color pallete and tone of the film. The drab and dreary tone offer the scenes and tones of “The King” as a normality of life during the time period. This captures the mood of Medieval times very well.
“The King” is trying to make you feel like your living the experience of King Henry V and the tone of the film goes a long way in giving the viewer that feeling.
The film is not a love story. “The King” concentrates on politics and war during the life of King Henry V and in the end the film is better for that.
The nearly two-and-a-half hour run-time leaves no room for trysts down other story lines. The somber pace does not leave much leeway in keeping the film going longer.
If your interest comes from one of the two other avenues, Shakespeare or history, then you will be disappointed. Shakespeare and history take a back seat to well written but modernized dialogue and good storytelling.
Chalamet is a pleasure to watch on screen. The performance he puts on only makes me want more. We won’t have to wait long, though, as his next film to see release is Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.”
Almost certainly, “The King” will be no match for “Little Women.”
IRATE SCORE: 4/5
Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org