The King

Make no mistake, David Michôd is a helluva storyteller as evidenced once again with his upcoming Netflix film The King.

Michôd is director and co-writer of the period saga with co-writer Joel Edgerton, who also has a key role.

Adapted from Shakespeare’s Henriad plays (Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V) it centres around Hal (Timothée Chalamet) an outcast prince who rejects the brutal reign of his ailing father King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn).

But after the king’s demise Hal becomes Henry V and is forced into decisions and politics he has long resented and it’s bad news for all the King’s men.

“You shall suffer the indignity of serving me, the wayward son you so revile,” he tells them.

But Henry V is no tyrant and his quiet observance is mistaken for weakness, including by enemies. When war with France becomes unavoidable he recruits ageing alcoholic knight John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton) as his advisor.

In France he faces off against The Dauphin (Robert Pattinson) in scenes that will resemble Game of Thrones‘ very own Battle of the Bastards. Guided by Falstaff, Henry must hold his nerve. The wargames become an ultimate test of character.

Timothée Chalamet underplays his role with great conviction. He’s come a long way since Homeland. Despite his youth he brings brooding authority to the title role. Joel Edgerton, who has clearly been a creative force behind the scenes, brings gravitas to Falstaff. In this male-dominated ensemble, Robert Pattinson makes a late arrival as the bad boy French Dauphin, Louis.

There are times when war scenes are fittingly gruesome, but there’s no budget shortcuts on crowd scenes, horses and medieval artillery.

Michôd balances action scenes with stillness through his leading men which makes for commanding storytelling.

The King is a frequently majestic and ultimately entertaining.

The King airs Friday November 1 on Netflix.


  1. Making these type of expensive to make medieval period pieces can create criticism especially at a time when more contemporary themes prevail, so when these movies do make a comeback history buffs should indulge while they can. I believe this film will be first released on the big screen along with The Irishman, starting a new first release trend by Netflix.
    Criticism of modern looking actors in these type of historical movies is unavoidable, crooked teeth, facial deformities and skin blemishes and unhygienic communal behaviour may be a bit much for some viewers, including the language used at that time.

  2. Glass Portcullis

    Another AACTA member who couldn’t get through it either. The Henriad are among my favourites by Shakespeare, but I’d stick to S1 of The Hollow Crown.

  3. As an AACTA member I’ve seen this film as part of screenings for the awards this year. I couldn’t get through it. I found it turgid and didn’t sustain my focus. Evidently not my genre. Some great production values and some intense performances but Chalamet has too modern a look for a character set some 400 + years ago. The star cast and director acclaim should help it get an audience but not my cuppa tea.

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