7
Feb
2022
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King Richard

King Richard

As a man clearly obsessed with the business of raising two world champions, Richard Williams (as played by Will Smith) endures more than the slings and arrows of their rough Compton neighbourhood in LA. Whether it’s being beaten by the gangs or having jealous neighbours call social services on them, Richard will do whatever it takes to defend his family. -Why? Because King Richard has a plan… 

King Richard is a film that will return your service should you start watching the games commence....

In a much more balanced film than I was expecting, King Richard walks a faultline between being inspirational and avoiding a full-blown descent into hagiography. Unrelentingly polite in the hands of Will Smith, his Richard Williams, much like the film, is determinedly forward-facing. Getting up each time he is knocked down, Smith does a great job of channelling a willful and frequently stubborn force of nature. 

Yet, where King Richard leads many are wary to follow. Scrapping with promoters and a succession of tennis coaches, most memorable of whom is Jon Bernthal as an effusive Rick Macci, Richard always doubts the chalice of opportunity that is presented to him. If anything the real steer here is Aunjanue Ellis as his wife Oracene “Brandy” Price. Unafraid to penalise Richard whenever his paranoia gets a hold, Ellis should be recognised for her forthright, earthbound performance as much as Smith’s more photogenic turn.

You see, the real challenge of King Richard, both as a man and a film, is how and when to relinquish control over Venus and Serena? Is Richard stifling them with his own imposters’ syndrome and if so, is that toxicity killing his own family’s future? Well, wisely King Richard stops just as that question is about to be unanimously answered and as such, it should be praised for revealing Richard’s contradictory nature and the hurt from it stems from. 

So, for a movie that mixes ambition with some equally hard-hitting home truths, King Richard is a film that will return your service should you start watching the games commence.

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