The White King

 

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Film adaptations of successful novels do not always make good films – as is patently demonstrated here.

 

White King, The

 

The setting for The White King is a totalitarian state, The Homeland. Events take place at an unspecified time when everyone is under strict control, a dystopian life that allows no independent thought by the population at large, not that anybody appears to be at large, for they are virtual prisoners in their so-called Homeland. The events depicted occur at a time of celebration for the thirtieth anniversary of The Homeland’s independence from what… the rest of the world, presumably? 

 

The film opens with a family picnic with 12-year-old Djata (Lorenzo Allchurch), his mother (Agyness Deyn) and father (Ross Partridge). However, the idyll is soon broken when the father is inexplicably arrested and led away to a work camp. Then, when Djata is out playing with his schoolfriends, they are threatened by a couple of bullies, and so the feeling of a dictatorship is built up but without us knowing why. Think Kafka meets Orwell’s 1984. Djata sets out to locate his father but is not helped by his grandparents (Jonathan Pryce and Fiona Shaw) who appear to have some authority. The film ends with a question mark – did Djata and his parents escape or not? 

 

This adaptation of stories by György Dragomán proves to be an incoherent disappointment. That said, however, there are some remarkable performances, not least by young Lorenzo Allchurch as Djata and Agyness Deyn as his mother. The appearances of Jonathan Pryce, Fiona Shaw and at one point Greta Scacchi as a questionable authority figure are never really fully developed and the film finally leaves one totally perplexed.

  

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Lorenzo Allchurch, Agyness Deyn, Fiona Shaw, Greta Scacchi, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jonathan Pryce, Derek de Lint, Ross Partridge, Jeffrey Postlethwaite, Matthew Postlethwaite, Clare-Hope Ashitey, and the voice of Olivia Williams.

 

Dir Alex Helfrecht and Jorg Tittel, Pro Philip Munger, Teun Hilte, Jorg Tittel and Alex Helfrecht, Screenplay Alex Helfrecht and Jorg Tittel, based on the novel by György Dragomán, Ph René Richter, Pro Des Richard Bullock, Ed Peter R. Adam, Music Joanna Bruzdowicz, Costumes Sharon Long.

 

Oiffy-Signature Entertainment.

89 mins. UK/Hungary/Germany/Sweden. 2016. Rel: 27 January 2017. Cert. 12A.