THE LOST KING
(***)-VITO CARLI

"...minor but pleasant crowd-pleasing film..."

Worthwhile Performances to be Found in Lost King

(040623) 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
the Queen (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 Queen (2006).

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 work on Godzilla (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
Tropic Thunder (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 reputation..

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.
 

Directed by:    Stephen Frears
Written by:    Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Based on the
 the novel The Kingís Grave by Philllippa Lingley
 and Michel Jones
Starring:    Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan,Harold Lloyd
Released:    03/23/23 (USA)
Length:    108 minutes
Rating:    Rated PG13 for some language and brief
 suggestive themes
Available On:    At press time playing at local theatres

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

THE LOST KING © 2023 Pathe Pictures
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2023 Alternate Reality, Inc.

 

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