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‘The Lost King’ Stars Sally Hawkins as an ‘Average’ Brit Who Discovered King Richard III Under a Parking Lot: Movie Review

by Sarah Jones

Based on a true story,The Lost King , directed by Stephen Frears, introduces audiences to Philippa Langley, a British woman with no formal academic training who, in 2012, helped find the lost grave of King Richard III underneath a parking lot. When the film opens, Langley is an almost-divorced office worker struggling with a misunderstood chronic illness.

A performance of Shakespeare’s play about the infamous Middle Ages monarch reinvigorates her; she becomes convinced that Richard III was unjustly maligned and she subsequently joins a club of “Ricardians” devoted to restoring his reputation. As she begins her quest to excavate the now-famous parking lot, Langley faces skeptical historians, archaeologists, politicians, family, and friends.

Lead actor Sally Hawkins does a masterful job of bringing the principled-yet-sensitive Langley to life. But The Lost King makes a puzzling choice that diverges from the already fascinating true events: Langley repeatedly sees the ghost of Richard III (Harry Lloyd) in the film, and he helps her on her quest to find his body. The conversations between Langley and Richard are comedic, but they ultimately serve to minimize the hard work and research the real Langley did to locate the king’s grave.

By the end of the film, it also remains unclear why Langley and her fellow Ricardians are so devoted to the reputation of a king who died over five centuries ago. This is a diverting movie, but the true story is still stranger than fiction.

The Lost King will be in theaters on March 24, 2023.

Top photo courtesy of IFC Films

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