The King’s Daughter Parent Guide
This very silly movie should be terrible, but somehow it works, perhaps because it leans into its over-the-top cheesiness.
Parent Movie Review
In the annals of pre-Revolutionary France, few monarchs shine more brightly than King Louis XIV. Known as the Sun King, he ruled for 72 years, made France a leader in the arts and sciences, and cemented its role as a leading European power. He also centralized power in the monarchy, built the Palace of Versailles, and fathered 18 children, 12 of whom were illegitimate.
The King’s Daughter brings together two strains of the Sun King’s life – the length of his reign and his penchant for fathering children on the wrong side of the blanket. The movie begins with an assassination attempt: the king (Pierce Brosnan) is shot out outside the gates of Versailles and survives by mere chance. This sharp reminder of his mortality launches a quest to cheat death and remain ruler of a secure, powerful France. His amoral physician, Jean-Michel Lintillac (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) suggeststhat capturing a mermaid would solve his problem. If she’s slaughtered during an upcoming solar eclipse, her life force could be transferred to the king, granting him immortality.
In the meantime, the king’s priest, Pere La Chaise (William Hurt) is retrieving the king’s illegitimate daughter, Marie-Joseph D’Alember (Kaya Scodelario) from the convent where she has spent her entire life. The king is charmed by his daughter, but his affection will not stop him from using her as a pawn in the world of power politics. And when she bonds with the mermaid (Fan Bingbing) and demands that he stop his murderous plan, his rage tests his paternal affection.
If you’ve watched the trailer, you know exactly what to expect from this film. It has a very silly plot with an over-the-top resolution (in the midst of a solar eclipse, no less). Pierce Brosnan is perfectly cast, strutting and overacting to an astounding extent. It should be terrible, but somehow it works, possibly because the cheesiness of his performance is perfectly aligned with the cheesiness of the story. It’s also a fun movie to look at with a laughable number of slow-motion scenes on horseback and some really spectacular settings. The filmmakers were lucky enough to film at Versailles and the opulent sets are a perfect backdrop for the extravagant lunacy of the story.
The worst part of this movie is easily its costumes, which are a crime against cinema. The tale is set in a specific year, 1684, which ties the movie to a clearly defined era in French fashion. That little detail certainly didn’t bother the wardrobe department, which clothes the actors in a horrendous mishmash of 19th and 20th century fashion, with 1980s goth makeup and bad hair. One gets the sense that the costumes were designed by eight year old girls using Barbie princess dresses and gowns found in the prom section of a consignment store. The results are unspeakably bad and distract from the story.
By no means should The King’s Daughter be considered good cinema. Yet, somehow, it’s watchable. The backstory is clearly presented, the action moves along briskly, and content issues are so minor that the film is safe for family audiences. Fans of fairytales will probably get a kick out of this preposterous fantasy, provided they are prepared to abandon any requirement for historical accuracy or logical storytelling. It might be a wet ride, but at least it’s fun.Directed by Sean McNamara. Starring Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release January 21, 2022. Updated May 31, 2022
Watch the trailer for The King’s Daughter
The King’s Daughter
Rating & Content Info
Why is The King’s Daughter rated PG? The King’s Daughter is rated PG by the MPAA Rated PG for some violence, suggestive material and thematic elements.
Violence: Mermaids are captured; one is separated from her child. A man strikes another in the head. A woman falls from a horse and breaks her arm. A doctor wants to amputate an unwilling patient’s arm. There is a plot to kill a mermaid to harvest her life force. A woman kicks a man in the groin in self defence. A man is shot and nearly drowns. People are shot at with firearms. A gun is used in an attempted assassination: a small amount of blood is seen. It is implied that man dies from drowning off screen. A character jumps off a cliff. Guns are fired in a hunting context. An angry character destroys musical instruments.
Sexual Content: A man frequently confesses adulterous liaisons with no detail. A character’s illegitimacy is an important plot point. A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Wine is served at meals.
Page last updated May 31, 2022
The King’s Daughter Parents' Guide
Why does the priest object to the murder of the mermaid? What are his cautions about immortality? Why is the king so obsessed with cheating death?
Why is the king willing to force his daughter to marry against her will? What does this say about his love for her? Do you think he’s capable of loving anyone but himself? How does the conclusion of the film affect your answer, if at all?
The abbess describes Versailles as “a lavish and glimmering hell”. Do you agree with her assessment?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This movie is an adaptation of the novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N McIntyre.
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The Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler is a great introduction to the mermaid genre for middle school readers.
Kathryn Lasky’s Daughter of the Sea series begins with Hannah, the story of an orphan with unusual gifts.
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Mermaids are a popular topic in film. Disney’s The Little Mermaid sets Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairytale in a brightly colored watery world and kingdom on land. In Aquamarine, two teenage girls befriend a mermaid who washes ashore at their local beach.