The Lost King
The very nature of history lies at the heart of this comedy-drama from the makers of Philomena, featuring a standout performance by Sally Hawkins.
Philippa Langley (Hawkins), the mother of two boys, is divorced from John (Steve Coogan) and feels that she has missed out on life. Although clearly intelligent, she is mostly ignored at her work and holds little interests outside it. But this all changes following a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The production leaves her unimpressed, but the story of the ruthless king gets under her skin. Something feels amiss and she soon immerses herself in the history of the period. When she joins a Richard III society, Philippa finds she is not alone in her belief that the monarch has been more than a little maligned. And the deeper she immerses herself in history the more real a figure Richard becomes – literally – appearing before her (as played by Harry Lloyd) as she delves further into the past.
Loosely based on the story around the possible discovery of Richard III’s remains beneath a parking lot in Leicester, writers Coogan and Jeff Pope, along with director Stephen Frears, build a fascinating drama around Hawkins’ superb performance. Coogan plays her ex in a much lower key than we’re used to, while Lloyd has fun as the ghost of Richard, whose presence has us questioning Philippa’s sanity. And throughout we’re asked, who writes history and just because they say it’s so, are facts about the distant past so certain as to be believed without even a modicum of doubt?