The Last King - The Power and Passion of Charles II (2003)

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Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Adrian Hodges

Cast: Rufus Sewell, Ian McDiarmid, Rupert Graves, Helen McCrory, Richard Rowlands, Diana Rigg

Synopsis: A complex performance by Rufus Sewell as the exiled British monarch who returned to a volatile, post-Cromwell England in the 17th century. Pressed to forgive the enemies who killed his father, Charles II takes the throne and finds himself squeezed from all sides by vicious power brokers, his vengeful mother (Diana Rigg), a manipulative mistress (Helen McCrory), dubious advisers, a contrarian best friend (Rupert Graves), and his bewildered Portuguese wife (Shirley Henderson).

Problems with the Plague and Charles's own, restless libido further complicate family and political dramas, but beneath the king's operatic tenure are visible strains of progressive government: Charles, after all, ushered in an early era of democracy in England. The Last King's sharp script never slows, but it's the cast's intense performances that bring royal intrigues to life.


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