While there is an impressive serialism to Rodrigues’ presentation of these men and their performances... one gets the sense that once The King’s Body was conceived, its realization was something of an afterthought. While individual men are unique in their presentation of self, and their rippled bodies are something to behold, this is a piece that doesn’t really offer a great deal of cinematic pleasure. And that’s something I never expected to write about a João Pedro Rodrigues film.
Beginning as an investigation into the collective memory of the past, it doesn’t take long for the film to become a portrait of the present as each of the men describe their lives, a fair number of which are affected by the economic crisis. The ironic clash between the mythic imagery of the king and these strong yet vulnerable characters is touching, and raises questions about the intersection of history and personal identity.
There’s an affectingly Warholian tinge to these micro-portraits of exotic dancers, bodybuilders, carpenters and teachers modeling with earnest cluelessness for Rodrigues, and, at just over 30 minutes, the filmmaker’s queering joke on Portugal’s mythical body politic doesn’t wear out its welcome.