It takes a long time — a lot of battle strategy, mead drinking, and moaning and groaning about betrayal and insult — to get to the part of The King that makes the slog worth it: nearly an hour in, after you’ve already decided that Timmy did what he had to do, when we meet the Dauphin of France. (Light spoilers to follow.)
The Dauphin is a deranged French prince played by Robert Pattinson, antagonist to Timothée Chalamet’s stoic Henry V. The two meet days before they’re set to engage in a very serious war, and since the film has been a very serious period drama so far, you expect Pattinson to play a very serious monarch. But then he takes a wild turn, and Pattinson as Dauphin the poncy prince emerges. It’s a role he described to Vulture last year: “There are all these kind of rugged men, and I’m in this little frilly frock.”
And mon dieu, does he deliver. Pattinson is always in rare form. You never for a moment believe he is acting — he simply is a vampire; a Hogwarts student; a depraved lighthouse keeper. And while no one can seem to decide if Pattinson’s froofy French accent as the Dauphin is good or even accurate, plenty of people seem to agree it makes the movie.
When we first meet the Dauphin, he is lounging in his war tent, looking smelly, bored, and pretty. What you expect: The Dauphin to say something serious and threatening about Henry V’s war-mongering. What you get: The Dauphin, giggling: “I’ll drain your body of its blood and bury it under a little French tree,” he threatens. And then, a dick joke: “You know your balls must be big, no? Giant balls.” He smiles, and places his fists side by side, waggling his thumb in the middle. “Giant balls, with a tiny cock,” he continues, and then breaks out in unctuous laughter. Cut to Chalamet and his bowl cut, stone-faced.
It’s pure comedy, from the giggling to the frilly hand motions to his languorous way of moving; Pattinson really gave us Louis the 16th by way of Viserys Targaryen, and did it all with Inspector Jacques Clouseau’s accent. Between this, the reemergence of this very sexy Dior ad, and a much-discussed “ferocious masturbation scene” in The Lighthouse, Pattinson is clearly having a blast. You love to see it.
And if you don’t, just comfort yourself with the knowledge that he based his accent on the fashion people who dress him at Dior. Somewhere, Shakespeare’s ghost is cackling.