So far the discussion around The King, Netflix’s latest historical epic, hasn’t revolved around its true story or even its young, hot stars. It’s been all about their hair. As Prince Hal, the wayward English prince who becomes King Henry V, Timothée Chalamet chopped his long, floppy locks for a vaguely humiliating bowl cut. Meanwhile Robert Pattinson, as his French nemesis, the Dauphin of Guyenne, rocks a stringy beach ’do. Who will win the Battle of Agincourt? And who will win the award for best hair?
Previously social media has mostly lost their stuff over Pattinson’s look, but who knows? The King runs a whopping 140 minutes, giving viewers plenty of time to weigh their options. In between they may periodically notice that the film, the latest from Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd, is educating them on a chapter of Middle Ages history, one made most famous by no less than William Shakespeare.
Indeed, The King credits three Shakespeare plays as inspiration, namely the two Henry IV plays and Henry V, which combined chart young Hal’s journey from a boy prince who skirts his royal duties to hang with the lower class to a reluctant king who has to man up. From the looks of it, The King seems to mostly focus on the events of Henry V, in which our young hero leads the charge against the dastardly French, here led by Pattinson’s glowering Dauphin.
Real film-heads know Orson Welles already did all this over 50 years ago, with 1966’s Chimes at Midnight — one of his many masterpieces, in which he played Falstaff, Hal’s ever-ravenous mentor-friend. But don’t worry, Netflix subscribers: The King doesn’t contain any iambic pentameter. It strips the Henry plays clean of the Bard’s dense language and replaces Welles’ bawdy turn with a low-key, mumbling Joel Edgerton. That should make it easier to focus on what really matters: What’s on top of Chalamet and Pattinson’s heads.