The path to success for two tennis stars now in the twilight of their careers is rendered through an extremely relentless father.
King Richard stars Will Smith as Richard Williams who mulishly has the futures of Venus and Serena mapped out from Compton, California. Smith modulates the character in this fairly inspirational biopic with tough and, later, tender strokes that might have the proceedings a bit out of wack for a while.
But, the debatable perspective might offer inquisitions about daddy’s brash temperament. As a reminder for the importance of family and the impact of making much headway in a lack of diversity (at least in this sport)
If a goaded, banged-up Smith captures a little of the spirit of a defiant boxer in Michael Mann’s Ali here it works in many clashes throughout the angst (with wit interspersed) from director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Joe Bell) and scribe Zach Baylin.
Initially, a respected coach (Tony Goldwyn) is retained for 12 year-old Venus (Saniyya Sidney) as Richard’s wife Brandi (Aunjanue Ellis) uses video exercises for younger Serena (Demi Singleton). With education on his mind, Richard jettisons the junior circuit as a relocation to Florida to train with Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) is in order. Yet Venus’ delayed pro debut might not be ideal if she has any say in it.
The narrative includes importance of avoiding waywardness and trying to break through prevailing societal barriers. At least when it comes to nasty parents and low-bailing agents, as well as local ruffians. Brandi’s steadfastness gnaws into well-meaning intentions with emotional moments of clarity; Ellis manages to diffuse what can be rather annoying especially in a dramatic kitchen sequences.
The phenomenon of the Williams sisters has an effective, if straightforward foundation here. And, the star power of Smith (Hitch) brings light to the appeal and empathetic presence of Sidney and Singleton. Bernthal fills Macci with notable aggrieved fervor. King Richard may not have a Shakespearian bravo to its lively warmth as the personal conflict and action may be too extended for its rallies, on and off the court.
Will Smith’s performance is award worthy as we watch an exciting sports event that rivals the Red Sox defeating the New York in the 2004 playoffs after falling three games behind. It all takes place on a tapestry of a family with five daughters lead by a somewhat ridged dad, who in his manner gives everything for his girls.