king richard, 2021.
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.
With Will Smith, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn, Susie Abromeit, Dylan McDermott, Judith Chapman, Katrina Begin, Erin Cummings, Andy Bean, Kevin Dunn, Craig Tate, Calvin Clausell Jr., Noah Bean , Vaughn W. Hebron and Chet Grissom.
A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after their father Richard Williams trained.
A tennis instructor asks Richard Williams (Will Smith, playing an imperfect character admirably and doing so with controversy and well-meaning conviction) which of his ambitious and talented daughters is Venus and which is Serena. Richard simplifies; the larger is Venus and the shorter is Serena. This exchange takes place more than an hour after king richard, where director Reinaldo Marcus Green, having previously released a somewhat flawed narrative film redeemed with terrific performances this year in Joe bell) and early writer Zach Baylin have shown they care even less about distinguishing gifted players beyond sport. Damn, that’s how I was able to tell them apart five minutes later. Here we have two of the world’s most famous living legend athletes barely defined or enlightened other than what they can do on the pitch.
I don’t mean to be cynical about it, but it’s because king richard is an Oscar bait vehicle for Will Smith. It also doesn’t mean that Richard Williams shouldn’t have his story told, but I can’t imagine for life that you would want to see a movie about Serena and Venus Williams told him their outspoken point of view. , eccentric, demanding, walking contradiction of a father who sometimes behaves in a questionable way while trying to offer the best life to his family. And it’s taking the movie at face value without paying too much attention to real-life details and whether or not aspects of the character have been sanitized to make it as palatable as possible to Oscar voters.
Play devil’s advocate king richard also understands that biopics are less effective when chronicling a lifetime, focusing here on Serena and Venus Williams (played by Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney, a piece of information you have to wade through the IMDb casting list to find, again proving that the two biggest attractions are kind of wasted) between the ages of 11 and 14. Specifically, the film begins by showcasing their life as Compton consisting of intense training (sometimes in the pouring rain, although the girls enjoy it) and finding a coach, running the Juniors circuit and looking for the moment. great for taking them pro (often head shots with hasty but skilled trainer Jon Bernthal, giving his students some expense and a roof over his Florida resort). Throughout the various trials and tribulations these quests present, Richard gets his daughters to talk to the mainstream media while looking after the rest of his children and his wife Brandi (an exceptional Aunjanue Ellis, unafraid to tear up her husband when he makes mistakes or an ass of himself).
There’s a part where Richard pulls out a VHS copy of Cinderella, forcing the family to watch it, subsequently asking what message they got from the animated classic. It’s a fun scene where no one correctly says what Richard wants to hear, which then explains the importance of humility. It’s a lesson from a guy petrified of letting Venus go pro (even when she and everyone around her agrees it’s about time) who will speak to reporters bragging about how well he has. future GOATs while making laden statements like “Tennis parents should be shot. “Richard is just intriguing when it comes to identifying what is going through his mind, and to the film’s credit, there’s a good explanation why he’s so overprotective. He also wants to make sure his kids aren’t sucked into a system solely concerned with harnessing their talent for ridiculous amounts of green just like it wants high-end contracts and sponsorships for them.
However, king richard feels less concerned with being confronted with the problematic characteristics of the titular father, which is a shame given that they constitute his best scenes; Will Smith vulnerable and recognizing his character’s flaws and fears and being called by his wife is far more fascinating than holiness. If 2/3 of the film focuses on Richard, it must be in a difficult context that is content with less than a wellness sports drama embracing all the clichés. And the boy does king richard forging a mostly familiar path, which is disappointing considering the incredible skill on camera.
Once the sisters are 14 years old, king richard settles into this perfect rhythm; a father determined to make the best choices for his family taken to task as those choices often look down on the women around him, Venus has her own voice and high stakes come into play. Now if you’re more of a fan of Serena than of Venus, forget that (maybe if Will Smith doesn’t win the Oscar, there may be a sequel focused on that relationship), but at least one of the girls turns into a real character who does more than just break things off. balls on a tennis court. But that still doesn’t shake the movie’s frustration with having the wrong perspective and doing with Venus and Serena next to nothing for 100 minutes. Maybe one of these days, Reinaldo Marcus Green will determine which character his movie should be about.
Evaluating the Flickering Myth – Movie: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]