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Review: Tennis comes second in inspiration from King Richard | Entertainment




King Richard is exactly what you think he will be, which is not a bad thing.

It’s the story of the father of tennis greats Venus Williams and Serena Williams when they were just a few (extremely) talented kids from Compton, Calif., Trying to break into elite sport with little more. only heart and perseverance. Will Smith performs and produces. The Williams family was involved. Beyonc did an original song. There is Oscar bait written on it.

However, the difference between that and your regular bait, which is too cynical a term to focus on anything so sincere, is that King Richard is good. It’s touching and inspiring, although not exactly inspired. And perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t do too much icy revisionism in the name of its complicated and imperfect central subject. It just lets the contradictions live and the film, and Smiths’ performance, is richer for it.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Joe Bell, Monsters and Men) from a screenplay by Zach Baylin in his first credited screenplay, this is the story of Richard Williams (Smith), a father who, along with his wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) , has big plans for her children. This focus can immediately rub some the wrong way. Why the father and not the tennis superstars? Well, that’s an interesting part of two of the best stories in American sport.

Richard, it seems, had a lot of ideas that didn’t work, he was an accomplished con artist who always had a business idea in the works. However, chess hardly seems to matter much, as one idea worked and that was to bring his daughters to tennis. The relentlessness sometimes humiliating despite so many rejections and obstacles is easier to observe because we know the end result.

The film does a good job balancing sports with this family’s story. Richard performed running drills with the daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton), on their ramshackle grounds in south-central Los Angeles, but it’s not just sporting greatness that Richard is focusing on. , he wants his daughters to be well rounded human. Humility and education are equally important. Girls, for the most part, don’t seem to care about thoroughness as they also believe in purpose, although tensions do run over.

Smith is as good as he has ever been as this man who has clearly been beaten, literally and figuratively, in life, but won’t let that stop him from helping his daughters achieve excellence. . He lets his movie star shine lightly and disappears into Richard, a guy who we think would be so easily dismissed by so many people.

By the way, both girls are great, although Sidney as Venus has more time to shine simply by the nature of the story. She’s the one who gets fancy coaches, first in Los Angeles played by Tony Goldwyn, then Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) who will take him to the pros. The sisters have a sweet relationship and clearly adore their father, even when frustrated by his self-promoting antics and sometimes mystifying efforts to protect them.

The main problem with King Richards long runtime is that from the first hour you can crawl out of your skin wanting to get up and do something … anything, and you don’t get that. kind of motivation of any sports biopic.

There are, hopefully, still a lot of stories to be told about the Williams sisters phenomenon, but King Richard is a great start.

King Richard, a Warner Bros. release in theaters and on HBO Max Friday, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for brief drug references, sexual reference, some violence, and strong language. Duration: 148 minutes. Three out of four stars.




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