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Despite a story that has enough elements to make for a diverting small-time hero film The Lost King is more winter of discontent than it is glorious summer.

For the past two decades director Stephen Frears has specialised in small-scale dramas based on true events. Alas his latest, about the search for the remains of Richard III, ranks among the blandest films in his entire oeuvre.

The main problem is that the genuine warmth that was present in Philomena, the previous collaboration between Frears and screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, is completely missing in The Lost King. This makes what should have been an uplifting underdog story into something of a slog to get through.

The obstacles amateur archeologist Sally Hawkins encounters on her quest to find the king's grave feel either forced or insignificant, most of the characters are but one stap removed from one-note cartoon figures and despite its sleek runtime The Lost King still feels stretched out at least thirty minutes too long.

Not helping either is the fact that Hawkins has regular hallucinatory conversations with Richard III himself, which makes it too easy for the audience to side with her detractors, who all think she's a bit mad to begin with.

Without that strong central emotional connection to the lead character The Lost King falls apart both narratively and thematically. With what is left, even an experienced hand like Frears was bound to face his own Bosworth Field.

release: 2022

director: Stephen Frears

starring: Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, Mark Addy, Harry Lloyd


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