- 29 Dec - 04 Jan, 2019
- 16 Jun - 22 Jun, 2018
England has never been more rain-drenched, nor increasingly de-saturated than in director’s Richard Eyre’s adaption of King Lear. Although I cannot say for certain (I’ve not seen every adaptation), I don’t think this play from The Bard, even been as galling, exasperating or somewhat choppy.
Reset into today’s time, at the end days of a military despot’s regime, Anthony Hopkins is exceptional embodiment of maddening brilliance as Lear – a madman king who decides to divide his kingdom between his daughters on the condition they flatter him with ingenuity.
Two of them – Goneril and Regan (Emma Thompson and Emily Watson), flash their father with superficial over-exaggeration of their love. Lear’s dearest and youngest daughter, Cordelia (Florence Pugh), nearly snickers at their declaration. When it is her turn to sing an ode to dear daddy, she merely says: “Nothing, My Lord”…meaning, either that “I’ve had enough of you old coot”, or “I can’t be in the same league as my sisters”.
For her whippersnapper attitude, Cornelia is disowned and sent away to France. Soon enough, Lear is maltreated by his beloved daughters, eventually losing his personal army and ultimately becoming a hobo pushing trolleys in London.
How the mighty have fallen – oh, and how fantastic is Hopkins, hardly skipping a beat from raving lunacy to shuddering frailty, mixing sublime subtlety somewhere in the middle. Hopkins’ casting isn’t novel though – he’s played a poles-apart variation of the same rage and mania as Odin, Titus Andronicus (another Shakespeare play set in modern times) and, of course, Hannibal Lecter. Regardless, he is a man of powerful charisma.
As are the supporting cast, including Jim Broadbent as the Earl of Gloucester, Andrew Scott as Edgar and Jim Carter as Earl of Kent. Subplots, about the Earl, his meek son Edgar and the bastard Edmund (John Macmillan) divide the film into uneven chunks that may feel alienating, and compressed. The hard sounding old English will sting a few, so my advice is to watch with subtitles turned on. •