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.