Image provided by Cunard British Film Festival
By Maria Grindrod
As part of the 2022 Cunard British Film festival comes the Lost King, the ultimate underdog story. Based on the 2013 book ‘The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III’ by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, not only is this a story of the headline-making uncovering of the remains of Richard III but also of a woman finding her voice.
Directed by Stephen Frears, this British Comedy Drama is a dramatisation of the story of Philippa Langley, the woman who initiated the search to find King Richard III’s remains under a car park in Leicester, starring Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, and Harry Lloyd. The plotline revolves around two stories: the discovery of the remains and someone trying to find their own value and place in society. Her diagnosis of ME/CFS means that she is not taken seriously at work and is constantly sidelined. After taking her son to see Shakespeare’s Richard III (a maligned account of the real king), she feels connected to someone else who has been misjudged and misrepresented before they have had a chance to prove themselves.
Thus, finding a kindred spirit who is also seeking affirmation. There is a real stranger-than-fiction twist to the real story that although there was a lot of research that would lead you to that car park that she wasn’t alone in – the conviction and the pulling all these things together was driven to some extent by something which felt supernatural in its effect with the looming presence of Richard III himself. Inspired by the play she had seen, he appears to her, leading her to his body. Throughout the film, she has an inner dialogue with Richard III that is used as a serial comic side effect.
Like the movie ‘The Dig’, there is a charming whimsicality. A female character is not taken as seriously as they deserve to be by a team of archaeologists with a theme of academia vs smaller less qualified people getting left behind.
Sally Hawkins stars as Phillipa Langley in a role she was arguably born to play. She has a real mix of vulnerability and strength, which gives her a way on the screen of portraying a character who can be almost on the brink of cracking and very fragile but also have inner strength and force of will.
The Lost King is in cinemas now! The Cunard British Film Festival will be back next year.