‘The King’ stands out from similar Netflix films, with help from Timothee Chalamet

“The King,” Netflix’s new 15th century period piece about King Henry V of England, was released on the platform on Friday. David Michod directs and the film stars Timothee Chalamet as King Henry and Robert Pattinson as the French Dauphin. 

From the opening scene, the movie is packed with action and drama as it sets the scene of English conflict with rebel factions. The introduction of King Henry V, or “Hal,”  is humorous, portraying him as partier who seems to always wake up with guests in his cottage. Henry’s accession to the throne comes with its fair share of familial conflict with his estranged father and younger, attention- seeking brother. While almost every succession plotline has some element of family drama, “The King” is unique in the emotional sides explored. The two brothers are not competing for the throne; rather, Henry genuinely loves his brother and acts with the intention of keeping him safe. 

Henry’s character development happens quickly but leaves viewers satisfied with the way it finishes. He abruptly becomes king against his will and takes on a new persona as King of England. There are a few scenes where we see the old Henry, making the transition much more natural. Although King Henry is older than the typical coming-of-age lead, he still goes through a period of intense growth and self-discovery as he learns how to rule a country. He realizes that there are many people he cannot trust, and he has to avoid being seen as weak and indecisive. Although he has the country’s best interest at heart, he quickly becomes a realist and sacrifices his own goals for peace to save the country. His eventual marriage seems a bit rushed, but Catherine proves to be an essential part of the plot at the end. 

Chalamet does a fantastic job portraying the young king, showing a wide range of emotion and depth. He has a great grasp of the character and is equally good at commanding attention and showing a softer side to the character when necessary. The shots of him leading the army and loudly ordering men around are juxtaposed with introspective scenes where he actually appears to be tearing up. His accent is virtually flawless, and his French immerses the viewer in the story. Chalamet’s phenomenal acting is an integral part of the success of the movie. 

The cinematography is both historically accurate and appealing. While not every aspect of 1400s England could be accurately researched and recreated, there are certain details that show that the team did their research. For example, the specific robes King Henry wore were unusual for the time period, but that is exactly the type of style Henry had, and longbows and hammers were placed in battle scenes as many soldiers at the time would not have had swords. Speaking of the battle scenes, they were exciting and kept the viewers’ attention in a way not many battle scenes can. By focusing on a few characters throughout the battle, the battles become more intriguing. The director’s decision to vary the camera angles from a bird’s eye view to first-person on the ground make all the difference.

“The King” adds to Netflix’s long line of period pieces centered on various monarchies and empires. However, the combination of Timothee Chalamet’s strong performance and the themes concerning family and coming of age make this movie stand out among the other films.