‘The Lost King’: A Woman’s Intuition Is Usually Correct

It would be wise to listen to her.

by Adina Bernstein
The Lost King

It has been said that a woman’s intuition is usually correct. What matters is if others listen to her or ignore what has been said because it comes out of the mouth of a female.

The new film, The Lost King, is based on a true story. After seeing a production of Richard III in 2012, Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins) is convinced that the King’s historical reputation is basically a lie. While balancing work, illness, and motherhood, she is determined to exonerate him and give him his due as a former King of England.

Her Tunnel Vision is Both Awe Inspiring and Frustrating

Given everything that Philippa has on her plate, it would have been understandable to just give up. When she starts her research, all signs are pointing to the story that has been told for centuries. If the information from his era and Shakespeare’s version of the man are true, he was a man whose sole ambition was the crown. He did not care for anything or anyone. The addition of his abnormally shaped body only adds to the image of a tyrant who thinks that he is doing the right thing for his country.

The first dent in this image, based on Philippa’s argument is that his disability was used as a crutch by his critics to malign him. Being physically disabled only refers to the fact that one is differently abled that the person next to them. It has little impact on the person’s character, wants, ambitions, etc. But without knowing Richard as the man or hearing his side of the story firsthand, we can only rely on what has been told by others.

It is her compassion and her drive that made me, as the audience member, want to follow her on this journey. She believes that he was more than the 2D power-hungry villain that history tells us he was. But at the same time, Philippa’s tunnel vision is a little maddening. I almost wanted to shake her and tell her that as ambitious as the idea was and as much heart that she put into this, maybe it was time to let it go.

Her Illness Creates a Question That I Have Yet to Figure Out

Philippa suffers from a condition called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Better known as chronic fatigue syndrome, the person is unable to complete their regular activities without frequent naps. While I understand that this forces her to use her from work, I don’t understand how she is able to have the energy to right the historical wrongs.

When you live with any form of exhaustion that goes beyond the general lack of sleep, it makes completing the most mundane of tasks that much more difficult. Though you may seem like you are functioning, the urge to crawl back into bed is never far from your mind. I know this feeling all too well. One of the offshoots of living with depression is the urge to ignore everything else, except for the need to lie down and close your eyes. I can get through the day (for the most part), but if there is an opportunity to lie down for a little bit, I will take it.

The Spirit Guide Works

The addition of a spirit guide as a narrative choice is an interesting one. If done well, this character is an escort of sorts to the protagonist as they go on their emotional pilgrimage. If it is not done well, it is a cheap cop-out by the screenwriter(s) who are stuck and feel like they have no other options. In The Lost King, this spirit guide is Richard himself (Harry Lloyd). He provides Phillipa with the confidence of knowing that she is on the right path, even with all of the obstacles in her way.

I like this addition to the tale. His presence is a reminder to both Philippa and the audience that just maybe, her instincts are right. When it seems that she has exhausted all options, he appears and encourages Philippa to continue. It’s the proverbial push forward that both the character and the audience need to move forward.

In total, The Lost King is a chronicle of redemption, following your gut, and not ignoring the female voices around you. But as good as it is, some elements needed fine-tuning before going to set.

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