My Kingdom


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

You might have thought that Shakespeare's King Lear would have settled comfortably on a Liverpool gangster's turf. The histrionics and violence are endemic, anyway. All that's required is a family of feisty women and the old codger, himself. Surely, not a problem.

As producer of three Derek Jarman pictures, as well as The Sex Pistols' sole adventure in the celluloid trade, Don Boyd must have picked up a few tips on how to be a director. You would be forgiven for not noticing. My Kingdom is a ragbag of cliches, in which Richard Harris attempts to give an acting lesson. It's no use, because Boyd's support cast, with the exception of Lynn Redgrave, as Lady Lear, are either out to lunch, or not listening.

One daughter owns a footie team, another runs a bondage club. The youngest lives in a posh flat, doesn't seem to work and wants none of dad's money. Everywhere you look, there are thickset bully boys in tight-fitting suits, ready to dish out GBH. Harris wears his long black overcoat. It gives him an air of authority, like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.

The story is crackers and the script by Boyd and Guardian hack Nick Davies makes no attempt to explain what on earth is going on. There is a botched mugging that leads to an unconvincing death. A cool Jimi Mistry and a floundering Paul McGann, as Harris's sons-in-law, look for a black guy to torture as some kind of revenge.

Harris, meanwhile, has handed over the business to his girls. "The family's gone. I'm out. You put it together again," he declares, wandering off into the drizzly city with a grandson, whose mother never seems to worry where he is.

There are corrupt cops, of course. Aidan Gillen, as an ex-vice squad detective, flaps around to no avail. He's having a bit on the side with Mistry's wife, not that Mistry gives a monkeys, because "a busy" in flagrante on the marital bed is grist to the mill. Tom Bell, as a hardened copper from the old school, knocks at Harris's hotel room door. "I want to stop the rot," he howls. "I've got cancer. You keep me alive," meaning that hatred for a homegrown drugs baron is an aid to remission - NHS take note.

"It's never too late to sink to a new low," someone says.


Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2002
Share this with others on...
My Kingdom packshot
Richard Harris is King Lear, as Liverpool gangster in modern times
Amazon link

Director: Don Boyd

Writer: Don Boyd, Nick Davies, based on King Lear by William Shakespeare

Starring: Richard Harris, Lynn Redgrave, Tom Bell, Emma Catherwood, Aidan Gillen, Louise Lombard, Paul McGann, Jimi Mistry, Reece Noi, Lorraine Pilkington, Colin Salmon, David Yip

Year: 2001

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Italy


Search database:

If you like this, try: