Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Sally Hawkins dominates 'Lost King'

      Director Stephen Frears has made groundbreaking movies (My Beautiful Launderette) and movies that haven’t matched his best work (Victoria & Abdul). Now comes The Lost King, a movie based on a screenplay be Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
      Lost King may not be a landmark work for Frears, who's now 81, but a memorable performance by Sally Hawkins keeps the movie on track.
     The Lost King tells the story of Philippa Langley, the woman who instigated the real-life effort to discover the remains of King Richard III. If you recall the news stories from 2012, Richard’s bones were discovered in the parking lot of a social services office in Leicester. The less-than-majestic setting turned the discovery into irresistible headlines fodder.
      But the movie is more about Philippa than the king Shakespeare vilified. At the outset, a downtrodden Philippa is passed over for a promotion at work. A bit harried by her two young sons, she's   separated from her husband (Coogan). A new love interest hasn't kept him from remaining part of Philippa's life.
     Hawkins mixes insecurity and assertion as Philippa embraces a quest that few others take seriously, including representatives of the academic establishment she eventually encounters.
     The screenplay tells us Philippa’s interest was sparked by a production of Richard III. She was taken with the performance of the actor (Harry Lloyd) who played Shakespeare’s fabled hunchback.
    As the movie develops, Philippa begins seeing Lloyd as Richard everywhere she goes. I’m not sure we needed visual assistance to understand Philippa’s obsession. Hawkins makes Philippa’s undaunted commitment clear enough -- sans hallucinations.
    Before launching her project, Philippa joins a branch of the Richard III Society,  a group that harbors a contingent of Richard nerds, some of whom claim that Richard was neither a hunchback nor the ambitious murderer of Shakespeare’s play. He was, they insist, a rightful king, England's last Plantagenet monarch.
   Philippa's work picks up speed after she convinces an archaeologist (Mark Addy) to join her search, but her instincts prevail over his more measured approach. 
   Eventually, hypocritical institutions try to cash on Philippa's work but Frears sticks to the point: Sometimes, it takes an obsessive outlier to push a cause to its satisfying conclusion. Philippa did that for Richard; Hawkins does it for the movie.

No comments: