The King’s Daughter (2022)

dir. Sean McNamara

The King’s Daughter is ostensibly based on beloved 1997 fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun, but it’s extremely difficult to place the two in the same regard. The book, for example, delved into immersive plotlines to forage meaningful character arcs and relationships. Meanwhile, the film portrays the extent of our heroine Marie-Josèphe’s (Kaya Scodelario) complexity by letting her clumsily fall into a fountain, in between her general dead-eyed staring. The book portrays its mysterious sea creature as intelligent and sympathetic; the film slaps some atrocious CGI on Fan Bingbing and shows her zipping round and round in the water. In the book, the setting and details feel true to 17th century France, while the movie’s patchy special effects, eye-wateringly bright cinematography, and shoddy fragmented costuming make it feel like it’s set in the future. Most tellingly, in the book, Marie-Josèphe isn’t even the king’s daughter – the film layered on this detail, granting it title-worthy importance, even though it adds precisely nothing except confusion and, sometimes, unease. Like moments of dancing or pseudo-flirting when Marie-Josèphe’s relationship with the king seems a little too close. How this film garnered a high profile cast including the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Pablo Schreiber and Rachel Griffiths is anyone’s guess, but the eight year gap between production and release shows a deeply flawed process yields a deeply flawed result.

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