The King’s Choice – 5 stars
Just as Dunkirk was an ode to English pluck and a representation of the viscerally brutal and arbitrary nature of war, The King’s Choice serves the dual purpose of a national homage to Norway’s resistance in the face of a Nazi invasion and the strain placed on the powerful and the ordinary in such circumstances. Norway’s King Haakon VII, is a sweet, doting grandfather who is constitutionally deferential to a democratic body that is crumbling under the weight of events. He must bolster the government while staving off the more muscular, ambitious desires of his son, which carry with them an implicit criticism of his father as weak. Indeed, as the king suffers from a bad back, we often see him in a fetal position on the floor or a bed. Meanwhile, the German attaché, who is juxtaposed favorably with the uncompromising Wermacht, desperately pleads with the king to accede to Hitler’s demand for submission, knowing that failure to do so totally will mean the deaths of many innocents. The tension is palpable, the pace gripping, and the quiet moments – especially the scenes showing the effect on the families – poignant.