The King

Elijah Wachs, Student Contributor

When I came into The King, I knew very little about King Henry V. All I knew was that he was an English king who became his father’s successor at a young age with a background in revelry, late nights, and long mornings. After watching the film from Netflix, I realized I didn’t need any knowledge to thoroughly enjoy the work written by Joel Edgerton and director David Michôd. Joel Edgerton is known for his acting roles in films such as The Great Gatsby (2013) and Zero Dark Thirty, and has written for David Michôd before on the Rover. David Michôd’s career is short with writing credits for The Rover, Animal Kingdom, and War Machine. Normally, a new director with only a small handful of writing credits under his belt would fall into the growing list of Netflix originals that no-one remembers and is quickly forgotten, but the tag-team partners make the story of King Henry V more captivating and interesting than it already is. If you haven’t heard of this film, here are the reasons you should.  

The visuals. The movie is shot in a static way, giving the feeling that the audience is in the room with the characters as they discuss war and civil unrest. Where the direction truly shines is in the lighting. Almost every scene is shot with natural lighting. I loved the use of lighting as a setting and surrounding. This movie is unquestionably realistic and gritty and the use of the light from windows or fires is genius that only adds to the feeling of merciless reality. The camera work only serves to accentuate the lighting and make the audience a part of the scene and the film. I was amazed by David Michôd’s eye for the camera in these scenes and the cinematographer Adam Arkapaw has an eye for the real world and captured 15th century England beautifully and convincingly. The colors are formal but mostly practical; grey and tan houses, royal red clothes for the king, neutral robes for informal wear. The colors and style fit the film perfectly and puts a cherry on top of the visual look of the movie.

The talent. Joel Edgerton is not the film’s star but is perfect as the drunken and haunted Falstaff. The retired soldier trying to forget the horrors of battle is perfect for the unrelenting realism this movie touts proudly. The first few minutes in the film are greeted by a haggard and dying King Henry the IV, played by the legendary Ben Meddelsohn. Menddelsohn’s role is short lived but he commands every scene with his strongman persona and his unforgiving confidence in his reign. A surprise star of the film comes from Robert Pattinson as The Dauphin, prince of France. The insane ramblings showed Robert chew every scene he was in and made the film come to life with character. Even with this list of talent behind it, this film would not be what it is without Timothée Chalamet. I absolutely adore the performance given as King Hal, Henry V. The pure confidence and power that seems to ooze from every pore of his body commands the scenes he’s in with pose and strength. Even better than the intimidating King of England, Timothée Chalamet absolutely kills the scenes where Henry is most vulnerable. The violent change from vitriol for his father to worry and care for his brother is shown with nuance and beauty. My favorite scene is the death of King Henry IV; Hal’s hatred for his father immediately turns to sorrow over his death and the new wave of responsibility now resting upon his young brow.  This performance is one of my favorites in film and has shown Timothée Chalamet as on of the most outstanding and incredible actors in the business.

This movie is not a film classic but it is one of the most captivating films of not only 2019 but of all time in my opinion. I was always wanting to see the following scene for the visuals, the score, the actors, and the story. The gritty realism is entrancingly interesting to watch. The action is brutal and dark and full of intensity and desperation. There are no flashy duals or fancy and exciting battles. The duals are intense, dirty, and dark and the battles are mud filled and claustrophobic. This film captures the dark reality of battle and war in the era of the English longbow and the cavalry charge. After watching this film I will happily watch Timothée Chalamet’s career with great interest and will gladly return to watch this beautifully real film and be entranced and captivated as I was the first time.