2013’s Philomena was a shifting and gently humorous account of 1 girl’s real-life hunt for a misplaced son. The screenplay, by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, went on to be nominated for an Oscar. The inventive group behind that movie (Coogan and Pope, plus director Stephen Frears) reunite right here for an additional real-life search of a lacking individual, solely this time, it’s for the 700-year-old skeleton of Richard III — if not with fairly as a lot emotional poignancy as their final get-together.
Because the historical past nerd who hunts for the plantagenet King’s stays, Sally Hawkins places in a sometimes brittle-yet-bruising efficiency: her character struggles along with her insecurity or tutorial rigour, however she makes a convincing case for why Richard III maybe deserves higher than the marginally shameful legacy left for him by Shakespeare. He was — no less than, in keeping with the protestations of the geeky Richard III society — an advocate for the poor, who championed the idea of innocence till confirmed responsible, and established a printing press.
It is all performed properly by its solid, Sally Hawkins particularly.
It makes for a lightweight, cosy historical past lesson, and there’s a lot to admire right here: Coogan and Pope’s screenplay is warmly written, propped up by a pleasingly jaunty Hitchcockian rating from Alexandre Desplat, and the playful fantasy flourish of together with Richard himself as a twinkly-eyed apparition, performed by Harry Lloyd.
However the movie generally struggles to rise above the low stakes of its story. In comparison with the emotional oomph of Philomena — the heartbreaking pathos of a mom who by no means acquired to fulfill her son — The Misplaced King feels a bit of skinny by comparability; maybe probably the most dramatic scene comes, genuinely, at a Leicester Metropolis Council planning assembly.
It’s painted quite broadly, too. Coogan’s character laments that we like to see historical past as heroes and villains, and that the majority of us are merely someplace in between — but his script doesn’t fairly observe that rule, depicting the College of Leicester as cackling, self-interested villains who steal Phillippa’s thunder. (The precise occasions of what came about have since been disputed by the college.)
The ultimate set piece, going down in a Leicester automobile park, received’t come as an excessive amount of of a shock to anybody who watched the information in 2012. However it’s all properly performed by its solid, Hawkins particularly, and if it leaves you reaching for the historical past books, maybe The Misplaced King has achieved its job.