(Link to Watch) Synopsis: Hal (Timothée Chalamet), wayward prince and reluctant heir to the English throne, has turned his back on royal life and is 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 - including his relationship with his closest friend and mentor, the aging alcoholic knight, John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton).
My rating: 80/100
There was one overwhelming sentiment I heard about this movie going into it: The individual parts are great, but they don't mesh as a whole. After watching, I agree with this sentiment entirely. So much of this movie works so, soooo well, but there is nothing that really pulls everything together into a compelling narrative. It's worth the watch for the sheer quality and availability that Netflix titles offer, but maybe temper your expectations from the shooting star that is Timothée Chalamet.
Chalamet plays Hal (Henry Prince of Wales), heir to the throne of England. The start of the film follows his hatred of the responsibility associated with his title, and his lack of desire to ascend the throne. As the film progresses, he changes his tune and goes from the carefree youth to the more serious ruler he has to be to lead his kingdom. Chalamet is by far the best part of this movie, and was really impressive in pretty serious departure from his usual sort of role. He brought a huge emotional and charismatic punch, particularly in the third act of the movie. The other performance worth noting is Robert Pattinson, who plays the eccentric prince of France. It's an extremely weird role, and I actually enjoyed what he was able to make out of the character. The accent worked and he was perfectly evil, but there just wasn't enough time to develop the character into a proper antagonist. You get all of two scenes with him before the movie's showdown and it simply doesn't offer the catharsis I wanted.
Considering this is an adaptation of a Shakespearean work, I'm impressed with how easy it is to consume as modern audience member. Director/writer David Michôd did a great job dumbing/scaling the content of the plays down so that idiots like me could understand and enjoy it. There is certainly points where it feels a little heavy or pretentious, but that is to be expected with the subject matter. From a technical standpoint, it looked fantastic. It had a very consistent visual palate and the set design was extremely high quality. The small-scale and intimate moments looked as great as the large-scale battle sequences, which a difficult consistency to achieve. Nicholas Britell (If Beale Street Could Talk, Succession, Moonlight) delivered another fantastic score which really complimented the period as well. My issue with the movie, again, is that it simply lacks a rhythm. They try to build a tension between Hal and his father(Ben Mendelsohn), the Dauphin (Pattinson) and with William Gascoigne (Sean Harris). It's never really achieved with any of them, mostly because neither Mendelsohn nor Pattinson are given more than a few scenes to build that relationship with the audience. The fantastic Thomasin McKenzie is also given a single scene as well, which is a crime in my opinion. It's not hard to follow from a narrative standpoint but it's hard to enjoy. Hal's transition from careless boy to serious king is rushed, the antagonists aren't clear or overly enjoyable and it feels like the movie ends on a whimper.
'The King' feels like it was a 3 hour movie that a studio demanded was cut down to 2hr20min. The individual parts of the movie are fantastic, but it doesn't totally work on a whole. If you have seen 'Outlaw King', another medieval set Netflix movie, you may notice a lot of the similar failings. That said, it's still enjoyable and gets a lot of extra points for being a Netflix movie.