The Lion in Winter - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lion in Winter Reviews

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April 11, 2016
With an amazing screenplay, excellent score, great visuals, absolutely magnificent dialogue with many quotable lines and such a great humor, The Lion in Winter also has great Peter O'Toole and just fantastic Katharine Hepburn who gave one of the best performances ever in a film. It is a historical film, but above all a perfect family drama with such a strong relationship as the center of it. It is also very emotional, so powerful to watch and it has many unforgettable scenes in it. It is so well written, so admirable in every way and it is one of the greatest films of the 1960s and a masterpiece by all means.
April 5, 2016
The general reviews of this film speak mostly of its witty screenplay, but I'm not sure where this witty screenplay was the whole movie. What I saw instead was a sort of medieval "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" people melodramatically mad at each other movie. I was bored to tears.
½ February 19, 2016
The Lion in Winter depicts the intrigues and machinations of British royalty with a witty and poignant script that rises on the knockout performances from Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.
December 27, 2015
One of the best period films we've seen in our household.
December 21, 2015
Lion in Winter's amazing script properly won the Oscar. No, there is no war, and the time is based during Christmas. Katherine Hepburn's performance is probably her strongest and John Barry is wise in when to apply music and when not to. A must-watch, especially for history geeks. Lion in Winter is one of the most quoted films of all time.
October 26, 2015
One of the wittiest scripts ever written, The Lion in Winter is an unbelievably entertaining period piece thanks to yet another incredible John Barry score, two vicious and unyielding performances by Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole and an excellent breakthrough by Anthony Hopkins
October 11, 2015
One of my favorites.
August 7, 2015
Excellent movie with a star studded cast
August 1, 2015
Yes it is sharper and wittier than your average period piece and it is worth the watch, but the ending sucks.
½ March 1, 2015
Great work of acting from Hepburn (and a wild head dress) and O'Toole with great supporting performances from John Castle, Jane Merrow, and Anthony Hopkins in his screen debut. Great costumes, music, production design, and writing.
December 25, 2014
The ultimate Christmas Movie
½ December 5, 2014
Consistently feels more like a family drama (albeit a well-written one) than a Henry Plantagenet biopic. And boy does it plod along...
November 30, 2014
Enjoyable drama with legendary Hepburn and Peter O'Toole (my boys are gone). Acting is over the top.
November 21, 2014
a hoot, great music and Hepburns 2nd best acting vehicle
½ November 7, 2014
Interesting but slow, overwrought and overshouted.

This movie covers a reasonably interesting period of history: the reign of Henry II of England and the potential succession of one of his sons. However, what should be a relatively simple exercise is turned into an overly complex exercise in Machiavellian manipulation, lies and deceit. Nothing is simple, and just when you think an issue is resolved, it unravels.

Initially all this politics is intriguing, but it wears thin fairly quickly. It soon resembles intrigue and politics for the sake of it, and serves only to pad the movie.

The ending is also quite lacklustre and anticlimactic after all the twists that went before.

Powerful performance by Peter O'Toole in the lead role. Too powerful, in that almost all his dialogue is shouted. It gets quite irritating, quite quickly. In fact his whole performance seemed a touch too over-the-top.

Solid effort by Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine. The performance got her a Best Actress Oscar.

Interesting also to see Anthony Hopkins in an early-career role: this was his second big-screen movie.

Even more fresh-faced was Timothy Dalton as King Philip II of France. This was Dalton's big screen debut.
½ October 31, 2014
Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole duel like Gods.
September 29, 2014
gr8 performances here
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 28, 2014
"In the winter, the mighty winter, the lion sleeps around!" Forget adultery, because there's also sibling rivalry, political unrest, family dysfunction, and other such junk to make this just about as stereotypical as a politically-charged drama set during 12th-century England can get. Naturally, it scored the Golden Globe for Best Drama, because from the mid to late '60s, the Globes were really getting into films like these, though not quite as much as Peter O'Toole. Shoot, I don't know if O'Toole was so much into politically-charged dramas set during 12th-century England, as much as he was just interested in Henry II, because, seriously, this is his second time playing the cat, and this film isn't even an official sequel to "Becket". He should have run through all of the Henrys and worked his way to Henry VIII, so that he could get a couple wives who were better-looking than Katharine Hepburn. No, Hepburn didn't look too shabby, but she was a little more masculine than O'Toole's character in this film, although I might just be thinking of the "Becket" Henry II who kept wining about missing his boyfriend... who was not played by Katharine Hepburn. Well, there is still plenty of saucy drama going on here, and it makes for quite the good movie, whose familiarity doesn't exactly end with O'Toole's role.

By nature of being a dialogue-driven period epic, this film is unique, but even then, you got plenty of this formula in "A Man For All Seasons" and "Becket", alone, and even though this film handles the formula better than, at the very least, the former, its familiarity as a should-be refreshing political and family drama makes it really difficult to ignore the other familiar aspects of this sort of subject matter. Still, it would be nice to grow more accustomed to the characters focused on in this film, at least enough to embrace them better, because even though the rich characterization and acting are there, they back morally problematic roles which compliment somewhat weighty histrionics as they do edgy themes. Set in a romantic time and a notoriously scandalous kingdom, and first interpreted in a stage drama, this subject matter is defined by its melodrama, but it's sometimes hard to embrace it, even in the context of this film, and whether that be because the characters are so questionable, or simple because the histrionics are occasionally too extreme, the film treks an almost contrived path, and a touch too steadily. The dialogue is sharp, and I don't know how much of it I would be willing to expend, but considering that it is the driving force of this 134-minute-long pseudo-epic, the final product gets to be a bit repetitious, and is ultimately way too blasted long, occasionally to where even the inspired momentum finds difficulty in securing dramatic momentum. The film is fairly entertaining in its flair, and certainly compelling in its sophistication, but it is a slowly paced affair that is sometimes too slow, resulting in bland, if not dull spots which challenge your attention in a narrative that, even in concept, proves to be a bit of a challenge to your investment. What might threaten this film as much as anything is its natural shortcomings as a non-epic of a political and family drama which is revolved around dialogue over action, and around characters who are intentionally problematic, but problematic nonetheless, limiting bite in concept which is further softened by elements of convention, melodrama and dragging. The final product is pretty flawed, and could have succumb to underwhelmingness, but what it does right it does so well that it very decidedly rewards, as a bitingly clever and dramatically juicy affair which immerses, with the help of solid art direction.

An intimate period melodrama, this film relies about as much on its setting as it does on its dialogue, thus, Peter Murton and the uncredited Lee Poll are meticulous in their crafting a recreation of the royal environment of 12th century England which is handsome and immersive in its distinctiveness, with a convincingness that is the first step towards selling this story. The subject matter's minimalism and melodramatics go a little too intensely stressed by draggy and, in other ways, somewhat overblown storytelling, and on top of all of that, most of the roles intimately focused upon are a little too flawed to be fully embraced, but as a study on the political and personal affairs of a dysfunction royal family, this story is very intriguing in its subtle layers and sophistication. Adapting his own play, screenwriter James Goldman does a lot of justice to the layering and intelligence, keeping color going, in spite of an overt reliance on chit-chat, with outstanding dialogue whose humor biting, and whose expository depth manages to do a plenty rich and organic job of fleshing out dynamic layers and rich characters, the backs of which might serve as a vehicle for dramatic resonance, should inspired direction be on board. Anthony Harvey, as director, delivers on some subdued dry spells, but manages to utilize tight scene structuring, combined with snappy writing, to establish adequate entertainment value, while plays on anything from John Barry's powerful, but underused score work, to deafening sobriety pierce with dramatic tension. At the very least, the sophistication of Harvey's storytelling is so respectable that one has be endeared towards the director's improvable, but tasteful efforts, which compel consistently in their engrossing you into the lives of richly drawn and even more richly portrayed characters. Most everyone has his or her time to shine, but not one shines quite like the leads, with Katharine Hepburn being intriguing and sometimes moving in her proper, yet humanly vulnerable portrayal of an intellectual and disrespected queen seeking some form of liberation from oppression, while Peter O'Toole once again nails Henry II's intensity as an ambitious king of great pride and great folly, whose gradual thickening shall emphasize his mortality. These and plenty of other major characters are a little sleazy, and it's hard to get invested in roles like that, especially when only so much acting material is offered, but if nuanced characterization doesn't make the leads enthralling, then their strong portrayals do, carrying an intimate drama whose aesthetic grace and sophisticated storytelling secure the reward value of this subtle, but striking affair.

Once winter has passed, the resonance of the film is a little chilled by conventions, questionable characters, melodramatics, often bland dragging, and, of course, natural shortcomings to a minimalist, yet promising story, whose value is complimented enough by immersive art direction, sharp writing, sophisticated direction and nuanced performances - especially from Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn - for Anthony Harvey's "The Lion in Winter" to stand as a subtly, but surely rewarding and intimate study on the personal affairs and conflicts of 12th-century English royals.

3/5 - Good
August 27, 2014
An exceptional period piece; it puts forth an effort and engages the audiences.
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