The Lost King is an interesting, sentimental but ultimately predicable film that is
elevated by a magnificent lead performance by the always impressive Sally
Hawkins. The film is based on The Search for Richard III, a biographical novel
written by Philippa Langley. The film and book are about a lonely,
misanthropic woman who seeks to rehabilitate the image of the real-life king,
Richard III who was tarred and feathered in print by the Tudors and Shakespeare
in the Bard's classic play The Tragedy of Richard III. Langley believes that he
was not a hunchback and did not execute his nephews to gain the crown.
The Lost King was directed by Stephen Frears who was once one of the finest and
best-known British directors, but he has since fallen into relative obscurity;
although he rebounded and got some attention for
(2006). Frearís glory period which began in the the middle 80s saw the release
of such art house classics as My Beautiful Launderette (1985), Prick Up Your
Ears (1987), Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Grifters (1990). Back then Frears and Miramax which put out his films
practically defined the art house film, and Frears received two Oscar
nominations for his work on The Grifters (1990) and
The filmís exceptional star, British actress, Sally Hawkins has received Golden
Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Oscar nominations. Her best- works include
Paddington (2004), Maudie (2006), Happy Go Lucky (2008). And
The Shape of Water
(2017). Unfortunately, most people in the US might know for her less challenging
(2014) and its sequel,
Godzilla King of the Monsters (2016.)
I guess she had to pay some bills.
The Lost King also includes an impressive co-starring performance by Steve Coogan
who also co-produced the film. Coogan is well regarded, but he is more of an of
a character actor than a big star. American audiences may remember him for
starring roles in Indy films like 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Philomena
(2013) which was also made by Frears. He was also featured in the TV series I Am
Alan Partridge (1997-2002) as well as roles in more mainstream films such as
(2008) and Ruby Sparks (2012).
The other main characters are a stage actor played by Harry Lloyd (who looks
uncannily like Loki actor Tom Hiddleston). Lloyd was a former regular on Game of
Thrones and has done guest shots on Dr. Who and is quite wonderful here as
Richard. Also of note is Mark Addy who plays Richard Buckley, an archeologist
who gives support to Langley in her her quest to redeem King Richard's
Phillppa Langley (Hawkins) has a mostly miserable life working at a terrible job
that she loathes. A bunch of younger people are promoted over her even though
she puts everything into her work. Her home life is a little better. She is
raising two video game addicted sons who gleefully count deaths in James Bond
films along with her ex-husband, but her life seems to have no purpose and
nothing inspires her.
Then one day he sees a very impressive performance of Shakespeareís Tragedy of
Richard III, and her life gains new direction. After she sees the play, she reads
Henry VIIís biography which paints Richard III very negatively and which she
considers pro Tudor propaganda and she even says: "I donít like when people put down
others for no reasonĒ. After she sees the play and becomes fascinated by the
historical figure King Richard, she starts being haunted by an apparition of him
in the image of actor Lloyd.
As we follow her personal mission to rehabilitate Richardís image with the
specter giving her encouragement, she gradually becomes so completely absorbed in her quest
she ends up losing her job and is unable to support her kids. She gets some
support from a kind of social club with the same goal as her called the King
Richard Society or Richardian's. Through much struggle she acquires funding (and
loses it several times) and finds the place where she thinks the king is buried.
I wonít reveal the outcome here, people who have read the book or the movie
reviews might know what eventually happened.
Although the film is critical of people who too easily believe false historical
accounts, it also occasionally plays fast and loose with facts. In real life the
protagonist played by Hawkins tried to find Richardís corpse so she could write
a screenplay about it, but here she seems to do what she does just purely to
correct historical misconceptions.
The film follows a predictable pattern/story arch for a biopic of an exceptional
person, and the audience will probably not be surprised at any plot
developments. But the film works fine as a nice celebration of British
eccentricity (kind of with the same feel as Turtle Diary), and the films is
chock full of winning performances which make this minor but pleasant
crowd-pleasing film worthwhile.