I was interested to see this, primarily to see Timothee Chalamet in a role closer to what he has taken on in Denis Vielleneuve’s Dune. Having only seen him in Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, I was wondering how he would cope in a film with a much larger scale. I shouldn’t have had any concerns. This guy can act!
I didn’t know what the film was about going in. It was only when the trailer popped up on Netflix that I realised it was the Henry V story. Writers Joel Edgerton and David Michod have blended historical fact with some of Shakespeare’s flourishes to create a version of this King’s tale that seems incredibly fresh and relevant.
As I said, Timothee Chalamet is more than equal to the task of playing the young King. He is backed up by a wealth of talent including Ben Mendelsohn, the always wonderful Sean Harris and Joel Edgerton on great form as Sir John Falstaff.
This is an incredibly personal story in spite of the grand, iconic events at its centre. We see a very depressing vision of how one with noble intentions can be pulled down a dark path and emerge with only oneself to blame for what has occurred.
Chalamet’s great central performance brings a great humanity to one of England’s greatest heroes, for good and bad. This bodes very well for his portrayal of the similarly complex character of Muad’dib. The terrible purpose of that character has some echoes of Henry’s struggle against the events unfolding before him.
All in all, this film was a great way to spend 2 hours and 20 minutes. If I have anything to pick on, it’s the large scale battle scenes. One on one, things are handled very well, including an early duel between two armoured knights that is incredibly realistic, down to the heavy breathing as they get progressively more knackered fighting in the heat in metal suits. However, the grand battle scene at Agincourt, which has such historical weight, comes off a little too much like what you’d expect from an episode of Sharpe (if it was directed by Miguel Sapochnik – there are some very on-the-nose references to Game of Thrones‘ Battle of the B******s) in terms of execution. This is only a minor gripe, however, as it is not the battle that is important here. What is important is the conversation and deception, which is done exquisitely. This is a film about pressure and decision making; about how you trust the advice you want to trust. It reminded me of topics such as fake news and confirmation bias, but also it was a fable about the value of true friendship.
I forgot to mention Robert Pattinson. He’s so much fun as the Dauphin, throwing insults in his deliberately over the top French accent.
Verdict – loved it!
Thanks for reading. There are some more of my film thoughts below.