I was pleasantly surprised last night by Stephen FrearsThe Lost King (IFC Films). Surprised because experience has taught me that a film with a combined aggregate rating of just under 70% (75% Rotten Tomatoes, 64% Metacritic) has problems.

Well, The Lost King has exactly one issue, but nothing that should give pause to any semi-reverent filmgoer. Otherwise it’s completely fine, which means that the critics who trashed it are petty and pissy.

I’m not kidding. You can quibble with this film but you can’t trash it, and if you do you’re a prick. If anyone wants to make anything out of this they know how to get in touch.

Entirely fact-based, it’s about Philippa Langley and Michael K. Jones‘ “The King’s Grave,” and more particularly Langley’s now-famous three-year quest (2010 to August 2012) to research, discover and exhume the bones of King Richard III in Leicester.

To a somewhat lesser extent, the film is also about the rescue of Richard’s reputation from the clutches of Tudor legend…from the centuries-old myth about what an allegedly conniving and murderous bastard he was…saving Richard, in a manner of speaking, from the perverse (if enjoyable) imaginings of William Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellen, Richard Dreyfuss and Al Pacino, among many others.

So I went in expecting some kind of problematic sit, but within four or five minutes I knew The Lost King was a keeper. It has a smooth, confident, almost jaunty vibe, courtesy of the usual Frears touch and the just-right screenplay (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope) and Sally Hawkins‘ exquisite lead performance plus the other sturdy players (Coogan, Harry Lloyd, Mark Addy, Lee Ingleby). Plus it’s wonderfully scored by Alexandre Desplat.

It’s basically about one woman pushing a rock uphill and struggling against several skeptics and naysayers, and…well, it’s comforting and reassuring to watch a flawed and vulnerable person get hold of an idea and carry it into the end zone…to stand up against dull-witted functionaries and achieve something noble and historic and resonant. Philippa goes through the usual ups and downs, fits and starts, dead-ends and false flares. She is frequently ignored, belittled and fought against, but she persists.

So what’s wrong with it? The decision to make Richard III into a friendly ghost or apparition– a phantom who initially doesn’t speak, and then finally speaks and then gets huffy and hurt when Philippa asks if he murdered anyone in order to take the throne, etc. (The dead king is played by Harry Lloyd.) I didn’t hate the device but I wasn’t that fond of it either. So I ignored it, and I didn’t find this difficult.

At times I was bothered by Hawkins overplaying the fragility — she seems barely able to hold it together in social and business situations. Constantly quaking, gasping, shivering. But I got used to it.

The Lost King is a good, personable, middle-class British film. Amusing here and there but not a comedy. I completely enjoyed its company, and let me just say one more time that the people who trashed it are really and truly rancid.