The Lost King : A movie review by Alex First

December 27, 2022 by Alex First
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Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins) is a quirky, intelligent, divorced mother who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Overlooked for promotion at work, a night at the theatre changes the trajectory of her life.

She is taken by an actor’s (Harry Lloyd’s) representation of Richard III in Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

As a result, she starts researching the late King of England, reading all she can about him.

She determines that he has been misrepresented as a murderous villain.

Aged 32, Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field – the last decisive confrontation in the War of the Roses that marked the end of the Middle Ages – in August 1485.

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In her quest to find out more about Richard III, Langley – in her mid-40s – joins a passionate group of acolytes, members of the Richard III Society.

One of the question marks surrounding the King is where he was buried and how his body, which was never recovered, was disposed of.

Through her driven sleuthing, Langley defies cynicism, popular and conventional thought, and academic establishment to solve the mystery.

Her steadfast companion throughout is none other than Richard III himself, as represented by the actor who played him in Shakespeare’s play.

It is Richard III’s apparition that appears only to her throughout her quest to uncover the truth.

Written by Steve Coogan (who also plays Langley’s ex-husband John) and Jeff Pope, The Lost King is a delightful charmer.

It is based on Langley’s book, The Search for Richard III.

Adroitly directed by Stephen Frears (who worked with Coogan and Pope on Philomena), the film is intriguing, dramatic, comedic and whimsical, combining warmth with pathos.

In less accomplished hands, digging around for the remains of Richard III could quite conceivably have been dry and uninspired. Fortunately, not so here. In fact, far from it.

Much of the movie’s success gets down to the characterisations.

If there is a better, more consistently outstanding actor than Sally Hawkins, I am yet to discover him/her/them.

She is superb in her portrayal of the too often brushed aside “hero”, displaying vulnerability and persistence.

It is the way she carries herself, as much as what she says and how she says it, that greatly enhances her performance.

Steve Coogan is personable as Langley’s seemingly decent and well-meaning ex who still plays a big part in her life.

Mark Addy is compelling as the ultimately self-serving archaeologist beholden to the University of Leicester, which claimed much credit for “its” discovery.

Rated M, The Lost King benefits from its lightness of touch. It is a very nice film and scores a 7½ out of 10. (Runtime: 108 minutes)

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