31 March 2023.
THE LOST KING ***
Great – another Stephen Frears film! The works of this English director – such as “My Beautiful Laundrette” (with Daniel Day Lewis), “Dangerous Liaisons” (with John Malkovich and Glenn Close), “The Queen” (with Helen Mirren), or “Florence Foster Jenkins” (with Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) – are immensely varied and entertaining, and always adhere to the excellence of cinematic arts in the British tradition.
This latest one is infinitely English as it concerns the true story of the 2012 discovery of the remains of King Richard III (1452-1485) in Leicester, in the middle of England. Here, in the town’s parking lot and in the film, the ‘lost king’ is found!
The peculiar aspect of this true tale is that this long-overdue revelation was the initiative of one ordinary citizen, Philippa Langley (played by an excellent Sally Hawkins). The amateur historian, driven by a passion to find the real story of King Richard’s demise, followed her instincts despite academic and scientific hurdles. From her joining the Richard III Society, to regularly seeing the ghost of the King on horseback and questioning him, and pushing stubbornly for a search of his remains, the film takes us through her quest. There are also moments of her barren personal life with her two bewildered sons and an estranged but somehow devoted husband (played by Steve Coogan, who is also the co-writer and producer of the film). All this is based on Langely’s own book, “The Lost King – The Search for Richard III”.
The Richard III Society feels that their King was wrongly demonised in the 17th century by William Shakespeare, who was under the patronage of the Tudors. His play, Richard III, turned the controversial King into a usurper and a killer of innocent children. The Ricardians beg to disagree.
Frears has made a film that is both a historical revelation and a feel-good personal story of a determined woman, while showing how the larger institutions with which she worked took the final glory. But as the Bard would say, “All’s well that ends well”, for Langley did receive an MBE from the Queen for her accomplishments, and got this film as a lasting tribute.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.