Warning: Major spoilers for The King are ahead.
Almost two months after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, The King finally hit Netflix. The film has Timothée Chalamet plays the rowdy prince turned short-tempered king, Henry V. The rest of the The King's cast is filled with other talented, male actors including Joel Edgerton and Robert Pattinson. But The King also co-stars Chalamet's rumoured partner, Lily-Rose Depp.
She plays one of two significant women in the movie: Henry's future wife, Catherine of Valois. In real life, Catherine became the queen consort after marrying Henry V and later gave birth to his heir Henry VI. To be honest, you’ll have to wait a long time for Depp’s character to show up in the Netflix film. But once she arrives, Catherine delivers a chilling moment that totally alters the entire arc of the film.
Saying Depp doesn’t appear for a majority of The King isn’t being overdramatic. In a movie with a 2 hour and 20 minute running time, Catherine only pops up in the last 25 minutes of the film. She only speaks in one scene that takes up about 10 minutes total, but the good news is that they might just be the most impactful and unforgettable minutes of the movie.
After defeating France and Pattinson’s unhinged character The Dauphin of France, Henry V meets with the king of France so that he can surrender the kingdom to England. The Frenchman concedes and also offers up his daughter, Catherine, as a bride to Hal.
Back in England, Catherine and Hal officially meet in a private moment, and it’s obvious from the moment she first speaks that she isn’t just some mindless prize won in a battle. “I will not submit to you,” she declares. “You must earn my respect.” Hal agrees and she then crushes his spirit by bluntly telling him that his trusted advisors, sans his trusted advisor Falstaff (Edgerton), have played him for a fool.
To back up a little bit, about an hour of the film is dedicated to England and France battling because William Chief Justice (Sean Harris) told Hal that the French sent an assassin to kill him. The Dauphin also allegedly sent a ball as a welcoming gift to Hal to represent the lack of respect other kings have for him.
Catherine reveals there was never a plot to kill Hal. “It would seem that you have no explanation for what you have done,” she challenges. “You have shed the blood of so many Christian souls, and, yet, before me now, all I see is a young and vain and foolish man so easily riled. So easily beguiled.”
She’s right. Hal has spent his entire reign (in this fictionalized movie) sanctioning the deaths of people who were not actually his enemies. He later confirms Catherine’s information is factual. All that he asks of her is that she continues to be “clear and true.” She agrees.
Besides Falstaff, Catherine is the only character in The King who doesn’t have impure intentions or the desire to deceive Hal. Plus, her scene immediately undermines the concept of military triumph by pointing out just how ridiculous this reverence of violence it by revealing that Henry V and his men (and plenty of others throughout history) became blood-thirsty barbarians for no reason. They viewed war as a game. Catherine knew better.
Depp spoke to Entertainment Tonight about how “incredible” it was to portray Catherine of Valois: “I loved the research process and just delving into who Catherine is as a person,” Depp said. “It can be intimidating to play a real-life person, but I think it just adds to the desire I had to do her justice and do as best a job I could.
Director David Michôd praised Depp for her convincing acting. “I was knocked over by just how poised and still and powerful she was,” he told ET. “That is not just a testament to her talent, but also to [how] she's been around the circus for a while.”
So, go ahead and start watching The King for Chalamet and Pattinson’s impressive performances, and stay to see Depp crush the toxic masculinity that surrounds her. It is definitely worth the wait.