Movie Review: ‘King Richard’ Wins Audience Award at Miami Film Fest

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“King Richard” won the coveted GEMS 2021 Audience Award from the Miami International Film Festival, and it’s no wonder. It’s a crowd pleaser!

The spirit of prescient planner, dreamer and barker Richard Williams, the work ethic and faith of his wife Oracene “Brandy” Price, coupled with the talent of Venus and Serena, made the Williams sisters tennis icons. It’s a clear, self-sustaining force that is found in this inspiring, Oscar-worthy bio / film.

Once upon a time, in the inner city of Compton, Los Angeles, there was a loving father and intelligent mother who have a clear vision for two of their children: “Venus and Serena are going to rock this world. A non-traditional path leads them in, out, and around the normal white bread, top-class tennis system, ultimately helping them achieve monumental goals. It’s the American dream personified, and “King Richard” provides a visual roadmap for others to follow.

One of the smartest decisions made by the film’s producers was to hire tennis enthusiast / screenwriter Zach Baylin (“Creed III”) to write and develop a screenplay that focuses on a segment of time, and not on the entire Williams story. After some background intrigue, this preview begins when Richard approaches the coaches to bring Venus to the junior circuit. In this narrowly focused window, the storyline develops the characters in depth as they face family challenges, neighborhood bullies, and a skeptical tennis world. The smaller, more intimate canvas – fewer people and settings – reinforces the characters’ identities, thoughts and feelings, which sometimes manifest in poignant and often humorous dialogues: As Richard walks past a cemetery, he tells his children: “Say hello to the people who are gone.

The bane of many tennis movies is that producers frequently hire actors who can’t swing a racket like a pro. The genius of hiring Saniyya Sidney (“Fences”) to play Venus and Demi Singleton (“Godfather of Harlem”) to play Serena is that they either have played before or someone has shown them how to produce groundstrokes exactly. like the real sisters do. Open position, lots of power. Many will cite the outstanding performances of Will Smith as Richard and the very talented Aunjanue Ellis (“If Beal Street Could Talk”) as Oracene as the foundation for this carefully written, played and directed film. Tennis players, however, will emphasize realistic serves, hits and volleys and the display of some of the most irritating quirks in professional play, for example taking strategic but unnecessary breaks in the bathroom during a match to disrupt the game. concentration of your rival. It is frowned upon, but still legal.

Smith could earn an Oscar name for his overall performance in a very showy role about a man who achieves his goals but is flawed. He’s got the pretty much decent manners and style of speech, but if you peek behind Richard’s curtain, there’s Will Smith pretending to be Williams. If Delroy Lindo had been chosen, his skills, natural physique and self-confidence would have made his performance invisible. Ellis is quite endearing as a mum who demands respect. Sidney, Singleton and all the other young women who play sisters at different stages blend into the background – it’s like watching children in real time. Tony Goldwyn’s interpretation of the Sisters’ first coach, Paul Cohen, is a good one. Jon Bernthal (“The Punisher”), as their kinetic coach Rick Macci, is far more impressive in a pivotal role: Richard reminds the coach who is king: “You are like a member of our family. But you work for us!

Kris Bowers’ musical score (“Bridgerton”) puts emotions in the right places. The Williams house appears to be inhabited, thanks to production designers William Arnold and Wynn Thomas. Costume designer Sharen Davis (“Dreamgirls”) gives the family clothes that look like they’ve hit the rack at TJ Maxx. Clean but not too flashy.

All technological efforts are expertly captured by cinematographer Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood”) and punctuated by editor Pamela Martin (“Battle of the Sexes”), making this 2 hour and 18 hour chapter minutes a greater life story is moving quickly. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Monsters and Men”, “Joe Bell”), with the classic script against the grain, poses so many challenges for the family that you have to support them. Green pulls the drama of the gangs that threaten Richard, the conflicts between husband and wife and the ambivalent tennis world opening its doors to intruders. Its staging is as moving as the performances and the script. If there is a weakness in the production, it is the language. “The Harder They Fall,” a recent brutal gang-style noir cowboy film, didn’t use the “N” word. So why does this “family movie” drop the “N” bomb? True sisters don’t use that word. Why should children, especially black children, listen to this kind of language? This is a flaw that could have been corrected in post-production.

This classic and disarming American saga is easy to enjoy. Easier to watch dad, mom and daughters shake up the heavy tennis world. Expect audiences – in theaters or their living rooms – to applaud everyone’s efforts. Richard knew his family day would come: “I’m in the business of building champions. ” Yeah.


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