Synopsis by Mark Deming
An elderly king must come to terms with his past as he plots his nation's future in this historical drama. In 1183, aging monarch King Henry II (Patrick Stewart) decides it is time to pick an heir to his throne, and he must choose one of his three sons -- John (Rafe Spall), Geoffrey (John Light), or Richard (Andrew Howard) -- to rule the British empire. Henry wants to announce his successor at a Christmas gathering of his court a few weeks hence, and in time for the event, he has decided to free his headstrong wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Glenn Close), who has been held in captivity for attempting to overthrow her husband's rule and expressing her displeasure with his mistress, Alais (Yuliya Vysotskaya). As Henry and Eleanor become re-acquainted, they are reminded of the love they share as well as the strife that drives them apart, and while Henry finds himself favoring his youngest son, John, for his post, Eleanor makes a strong case for her first-born, Richard, with Geoffrey attempting to consolidate influence in a bid for power. However, as the king looks back at his long past and short future, he comes to the sad realization that none of his sons are truly fit to rule. James Goldman wrote the screenplay for this, the second screen adaptation of his award-winning play, which finally came to fruition 5 years after Goldman's death. Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn starred in the Oscar-winning 1968 version.
elderly, heir, king, marital-problems, power, throne, wife