The Lost King

BBFC RatingThe Lost King

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Director(s)Stephen Frears
Writer(s)Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
CountryUnited Kingdom
Running Time1HR 48MINS
SeasonMain Programme

Stephen Frears’ latest retells the true story of an amateur historian (Sally Hawkins) battling skepticism and bureaucracy in a quest to locate the final resting place of King Richard III.

Langley (Sally Hawkins) is a writer who finds herself suffering a midlife malaise after a divorce and some health challenges. She happens upon the Richard III Society, a group of amateur historians bent on rehabilitating the damaged reputation of Richard, and soon becomes obsessed with finding his long-lost remains. Weathering derision from historians and concern from her family (the exception being her supportive but confused ex-husband John, played by Steve Coogan), our amateur sleuth does prevail. But her discovery of Richard’s true fate is not the last chapter in this fascinating story. The film’s irony-filled third act, when bureaucrats attempt to do to Philippa something akin to what Henry Tudor did to Richard, is an impassioned addendum to this true-life story.

Screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena) partner with Stephen Frears to create the perfect narrative tension between the past and the present. Through her sensitive and spirited portrayal of Philippa, Hawkins shows us a woman who fights ferociously to redeem Richard, all the while seemingly powerless to change others’ misunderstanding of her. In mending history’s fractured perception of Richard III, Philippa mends herself.

The release of The Lost King coincides with the 10th Anniversary of the discovery of the remains of Richard III, the last English king to die in battle.