There is a good variety of interesting movies out this month — The Lost King particularly stood out to me due to the unusual true story on which it is based.
The film is set around Philippa, she is a single mum in Edinburgh who struggles with ME and a thankless job. She develops an interest in Richard III after going to a production of the Shakespeare play with her son. Eventually Richard begins to come to her in hallucinations and while researching the real Richard the third (not Shakespeares version we are all familiar with ) she discovers that Richard was misunderstood. Not only that, but his body has never actually been found. With a group of amateur historians she sets out to find the King.
However when she starts to make progress in the hunt for Richard, other people and organisations try and muscle in to take the credit for the discovery. This honestly sounds like a mad Indiana Jones plot but remarkably it all actually happened back in 2012.
The story was very well covered so there are no real surprises in the movie. The Lost King is a nice gentle film that works well but does feel a little too simple at times. The good stuff is mainly down the writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope who were Oscar nominated for the moving Philomena a few years ago. The script is sharp and funny but never too silly despite or surreal the unusual content.
Another strength is the top quality cast with Sally Hawkings as Phillipa in the lead supported by Steve Coogan and the always great Mark Addy. Its directed by Steven Frears who has made some really great films in the past like My Beautiful Laundrette and High Fidelity but this feels a little bit 'TV movie of the week for me'. The direction lets the story down a little.
This movie is like the Da Vinci Code by way of BBC afternoon tv and I’m not sure if thats compliment or not. It that would go well as a double bill with a film that came out last year on Netflix called The Dig (I do think The Dig is a much better film ). It has similar themes of an amateur historian being pushed aside by professionals once the discovery gets going.
I think this is a film you’ll probably enjoy as much at home as you would on the big screen so unless its a particularly grim day and you’ve seen everything else good in the cinema (there is a lot great stuff out at the moment! ) I’d wait to catch this one on tv or streaming.
One more thing, the tricky part of writing about this film is I do think more drama is to come, the University of Leicester who really are made out to be the baddies have said they will be taking legal action against the film's producers. Already on the defensive on the BBC last week a producer uttered the fateful line “Its a film, not a documentary” which did make me cringe. They perhaps shouldn’t have used so many real names as they really have seemed to set themselves up to being sued into oblivion. The story does open with “Based on true events” well I think the word ‘based' in that sentence will be doing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming months. Maybe they will make a tv movie of the week about the eventual libel case.