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Drama - Family

The Lost King (2023 in Spain)

Duration1h 48m
RatingsUK: 12A, USA: PG-13, Denmark: 7
Source of storyA book by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, The Search for Richard III.
DirectorStephen Frears
Writers/ScriptSteve Coogan, Jeff Pope
StarringSally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, Harry Lloyd, James Fleet, Mark Addy, Lee Ingleby,
RatingsIMDb: 6.6/10 by 4,100 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 78% by 119 reviewers. Review2view: 7.8/10.

Summary: Philippa Langley is an office worker with ME, and a divorced, but still supportive, husband who, after seeing a presentation of Shakespeare’s Richard III becomes obsessed with the king. She reads up on her subject and joins the Edinburgh branch of the Richard III Society, who think that the former king has been given a bad press.  She goes to a lecture in Leicester and begins to see apparitions of the king which in time she engaged in conversation. With various leads and references, including some help from the Leicester Uni archaeological department, she identifies a possible burial site for the former king, and when funding for a dig fails she gets the money for it together by crowd funding. When the body of the king is found on the first day of the dig in a car park, the university rush to take credit for the success, side-lining Philippa.

Content: No sex or nudity, or drinking or smoking. Philippa is seen at work, failing to get a promotion. She interacts with her former husband, she has apparently discarded, but who remains helpful. She attends meetings of the Richard III Society always in pubs in the shadow of the Forth Bridge. She interacts with a ghost of the king, represented by the actor she saw in the play. She argues and is helped by the chief archaeologist from the university, who is sacked by the university, freeing his to work for her, but reinstated when the king is found. In the end Philippa’s part in the finding is overshadowed by the input from the university.

A View: This film is typical Stephen Frears territory, and it is a small and charming film. The university is portrayed as the villain of the piece and arguments continue to this day. Their man, Richard Taylor, threatening legal action against the film makers. They also say that the information about the possible burial site is not new, but Philippa Langley says, quite reasonably, that if they knew where the body was why did they not dig him up. But outside all the wrangling I found it to be a really fun watch and is possibly my favourite of 2023 so far.

Other notable Stephen Frears films reviewed on this site include: The Queen, Philomena and Florence Foster Jenkins.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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