The Lost King

Sally Hawkins has the heart to prove a dead king of his innocence.

William Shakespeare’s tragedy of “Richard III” suggested that the king murdered the Princes in the Tower, and was both a hunchback and usurper. “The Lost King” is based on a true story about a fan and mother named Philippa Langley, who wanted to prove everyone wrong about him by financing a search for his remains which were underneath a car park in Leicester. Could he really be a humped murderer or the rightful king who didn’t deserve the Shakespearian treatment? Let’s dig and find out.

“The Lost King” doesn’t have the full poignant nature of director Stephen Frears’ recent entries like “The Queen,” “Philomena,” or “Florence Foster Jenkins,” but it does have its heart in the right place, and has a genuinely likable lead like Hawkins, who can shift in tones based on the various genres she stars in. And she has magnetism as Langley, who sees a play of “Richard III,” and is so impressed by the young actor who portrays him that she begins to have fantasies of who could be the real Richard III (Harry Lloyd from “The Theory of Everything”) talking to her. It’s considered a fantasy, because she’s the only one who can see him, but she isn’t crazy for believing she can.

We next see her at a fan club-the Richard III Society-and wanting to dig further to prove to everyone the king was not the humped murderer. She even has to have the ex-husband John (Steve Coogan) having trouble believing her. She had to quit her previous job due to unfair issues, and they have two boys to feed. He may be seeing another woman, but at least, he still wants to be a father to his kids. I’m thankful he isn’t the irritably estranged ex-spouse, because he eventually comes around and supports his wife’s mission.

Besides, he isn’t the one threatening anything There’s also funds to be raised for the digging, and cynicism from an ULAS archeologist named Richard Buckley (Mark Addy), who believes it to be too risky. Besides a dead king buried under a parking lot? Some people would find that heart to believe. But not Philippa. She believes that thanks to a painted “R” at the lot. So it’s conceivable that it must be his burial ground.

When we do see the Richard III fantasy conversations, they can either be flimsy or charming on their own terms. It all depends on how Frears directs and how Coogan and Jeff Pope write the screenplay. And they all collaborated on “Philomena.” If “The Lost King” doesn’t work in certain aspects (it’s not as funny as its genre labeling says it is and negative situations), a lot of other elements really do. It has a good spirit inside to have us supporting Philippa in her mission, and Hawkins can use her words without insulting Shakespeare. Besides, he was right about a few things.

I don’t know much about the history on the king, but seeing the passion and fanbase of him proves further that even historic figures can be iconic. Philippa sees something inside Richard III that convinces her he was a good king. And her viewing on a stage play gives her a good image. Even the stage actor portraying him seems impressed that his performance moved her. Lloyd does have likability on both sides of the equation.

“The Lost King” is no royal masterpiece, but it is worthy enough of your time.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Categories: comedy, Drama

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