The Lost King – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 48 minutes, Director – Stephen Frears

After seeing a performance of Richard III, and feeling underappreciated at work, Philippa (Sally Hawkins) sets out to try and find the body of the misunderstood monarch.

The Lost King is very much one of those films that shows you everything in the trailer. Admittedly, the subject matter (or at least part of it) was headline news. The side perhaps not told as much is that which forms the narrative of Stephen Frears’ latest directorial outing (written by Philomena, also directed by Frears, duo Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope) as we follow Sally Hawkins’ Philippa Langley. Feeling underappreciated at work after newer, younger employees are given heavy promotions she’s inspired to set out on her own adventure after a trip to the theatre to see Richard III.

As the performance of the actor playing the titular monarch (Harry Lloyd) begins to linger in Philippa’s mind she finds herself researching his life; attending society meetings where the group claims the king was misunderstood and painted falsely by Tudor society. And with this she goes on a mission to try and find the body of the titular lost king, finding further inspiration when he appears to her (again in the form of Lloyd) in various visions throughout the film. She’s adamant about proving innocence for the figure – frequently emphasising phrases along the lines of innocent until prove guilty, which gradually become quite laboured when overused in a scene.


There are a handful of elements throughout the film where, even if based on true events, when they appear feel somewhat forced and tenuous. There’s a feeling of ‘of course’ present in certain instances. There may be some interest here and there when it comes to some revelations – while some of the course may feel rooted in convention, interactions and conflictions with the University of Leicester, represented largely by Lee Ingleby’s Richard Taylor, does help to bring a bit more to the film – a handful of elements feel as if they’re simply padding out the run-time.

For a good proportion of The Lost King’s 108 minute course it feels as if things are being slightly stretched out. While such points may still be watchable and there’s still a level of engagement with the film and the unfolding events it feels as if what you’re seeing would generally be better suited to a 60 minute one-off special. You’re kept in place by the mild amusement that’s provided – there are a couple of chuckles to be had along the way – however as a whole the film’s perhaps likely to be quite forgettable. There’s a lot of passion displayed by some of the characters, particularly Sally Hawkins’ well-performed central figure, but that doesn’t always make its way to the audience. It ultimately makes The Lost King something watchable whilst its on, but not likely to leave a lasting impact.

While it’s largely watchable there’s a lot within The Lost King which causes it to feel padded out and at times tenuous, even if sticking to real events.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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