HOLLYWOOD—It has indeed been a while since I’ve seen a feel good movie, one that inspires and tugs at your heart in a way that places a bright smile on your face. “King Richard” is one of those films and led by a fascinating performance by Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.
Now there have been all sorts of talk about Smith’s performance being one of his best in his career. I would argue what he did with “The Pursuit of Happyness” was a bit stronger, but what he does telling the story of Richard is damn powerful. Smith manages to absorb himself into the character, he has his cadence, he has his walk, he has his patience and he does display small tokens of rage and anger when necessary. Simply put, it is a well-rounded performance that puts Smith into the conversation and perhaps the driver seat in the Best Actor race as awards season starts to get underway.
With that said, those coming to see the story of Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton), will get a taste of these athletes career, but this is NOT their story it is about Richard Williams and his drive to help his daughters, not just Serena and Venus, but all of them (five in total) to be successful. This is a stern man, not allowing his daughters to talk about tennis after stepping off the court, forcing them to be kids, focusing on education and knowledge.
Yeah, it would make you question his parenting tactics and so much to the point that the authorities are called on Richard and his wife, Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) is a gripping scene. Kudos has to be delivered to Ellis who also delivers a solid performance. Her performance is a bit quieter, subtle, but when she reacts to certain things you feel it and it resonates with you.
We see this journey of Richard taking Venus, Serena and the rest of his children to a tennis court in a rough part of Compton, where his daughter is harassed by a group of thugs, threats are made and he is even assaulted in an attempt to push his daughters to reach their fullest potential. It is a constant fight for Richard to land a coach for his daughters. When he manages to get Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn) to coach Venus things start to change, but Richard continues to fight against what knowledge he is being shared by those in the tennis arena.
Goldwyn delivers a solid performance in the movie as well, and that same goes for Jon Bernthal as Rick Macci, who helps Venus and Serena reach their fullest potential. “King Richard” has a solid pacing from start to finish and there is not a boring moment in this film and the ending which is quite climatic and tense, delivers even if it’s not the result you expect, it explains why this tennis superstars became the star athletes heralded today.
“King Richard” delivers a powerful story, solid performance and an inspiring message that no matter where you come from, if you have a dream it is attainable. It is all about focus, but sometimes you need to have a motivator behind the scenes pushing you to never give up even if you want to and this movie shows that to its fullest glory.