June 8, 2023


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“The Last King”: The king died (and was buried in a parking lot)

Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan are the protagonists of this semi-true story, signed by the same team as the movie “Philomena”.

Amazing is the first word that comes to mind when reading this tale of King Richard III, written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope and directed by Stephen Frears. Based on true events, the film focuses on Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins), an anonymous Englishwoman suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. A mother of two, she lives with her ex John (Steve Coogan), Langley in Edinburgh and is bored, particularly because she has been denied professional promotion due to her illness.

When she attends a performance of Shakespeare’s play “Richard III,” her life changes completely when she becomes obsessed — to the point, in fact, that she talks to her ghost — about this character, a murderer and usurper. Langley scoured bookstores to devour all works devoted to the last sovereign, the Plantagenets, who reigned from 1483 to 1485.

“The Last King” takes the basic story of “Philomena,” a woman who discovers a secret at the end of an investigation, but here without any real connection to the character. Langley remains where Richard III’s remains were excavated, lost under a car park for years, but his role is largely forgotten by researchers and academics.

Of course, Sally Hawking, in all her roles, is very bright and convincing, but not enough to make us stick to an extraordinary story. Is it the fault of the screenwriters who insist on constantly inserting the spirit of Stephen Frears and Richard III? Or is the movie completely lacking in punch?

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“The Last King” opens in theaters March 31 at the Cinema du Musée de Montreal