my movie thoughts: Outlaw King (2019)

Promotional still for Outlaw King, Netflix Original

Most of this movie, I just kept thinking “Yeah but…why Chris Pine?”

I just never found myself able to suspend my disbelief that Captain Kirk was now a Scottish Lord. Or that someone so pretty was a war hero in such a rough time. Robert the Bruce should have looked more weathered, more of the world. And he must have had better hair!

There was also a half second of me thinking “yeah but…why full frontal Chris Pine?” because was it really necessary to show him bathing in a river naked? Was this supposed to make me feel like he was one with the land? Because, again, I was more concerned with doing something about that awful hair.

Thank goodness for Florence Pugh, who elevates every movie she is in by a whole star rating. I’m starting to obsess over her. I am giving this movie 3 stars on Letterboxd because of her. Every moment she wasn’t on screen was a missed opportunity, her character was far more fascinating than Bruce or the rest of the men – though this is probably the writer’s trying to stay within what is known about the history and I’m going to guess (though I have no proof) that her life story probably is not so heavily documented so they felt they had more wiggle room while they needed to stay true to the history for Robert (if their Wikipedia articles are anything to go by, this is true)

Side note: Having seen ‘Midsommar’ last year, when, in ‘Outlaw King’ Pugh said the line “Alas we are but king and queen of the May”, and then later on she slips a flower crown onto Robert’s head, I couldn’t help but giggle at this unintentional meta-joke for Pugh fans.

I’ve been told this was more faithful to the real history than ‘Braveheart’. My husband loves this time period so he wanted to watch it but we both felt it suffered from having to cover TOO much in such a short time. I wish there had been some dates, a map, or anything to help us non-Scottish history experts to keep up with the timeline and troop movement. Just one simple cut away where it is a map and a finger and someone saying “Here we are and here they are”. It just would have helped with understand the urgency of things, like hearing that the English troops are marching to battle, I thought “OH NO HERE THEY ARE” but really it was going to take them days, maybe longer, to get to where Bruce and his men were hiding. Especially with the King’s son running around a lot, I could not figure out exactly how far away things were from each other.

By the end of the movie, I wanted to rewatch ‘Last Kingdom’ because for epic historical stories, I think the serial format is better than movie. You can only do so much in 2 hours. Cramming years of war and struggle into a few hours is not just a bad idea but really in injustice to the stories behind the scenes that make it all make sense.

But the biggest question I was left with is: Are there no Scottish actors?? So far we’ve had two very famous movies about Scottish heroes played by an Australian and an American. Why is this??

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