Andrea’s Film Review – King Richard

King Richard ⭐️⭐️⭐️Review by Andrea Carnevali

Armed with a clear vision and a brazen, 78-page plan, Richard Williams (Will Smith) is determined to write his two daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Out in cinemas Friday 19 November 2021.

King Richard is certainly not going to revolutionise the ‘sport/biopic’ movie sub-genre. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of the tropes on offer here: ‘the rag to riches’ story (even if this one is true),  the ‘success against the odds’ motif, the ‘determination no matter what’ mantra.

The original Rocky back in the ‘70s followed the exact same formula, as did many others after that, however what the film-makers are trying to do here is to give us all of the above from a different point of view: not so much the sportsman at the centre of it (or women in this case), but the humble man behind the scenes, who planned it all from the start and made it possible.

The Richard of the title is in fact not the Shakespearian character (though this Richard is such a complicated and multi-layered character that he might as well be) but the father of two of some of the best tennis players in history: Venus and Serena Williams.

This is the story of how their father coached them to become what they are today until the moment when they were ‘discovered’.

Will Smith plays the part of Richard Williams beautifully, with all his complications, his beliefs and determination (or stubbornness), but also his insecurities, his faults and weaknesses and I have to say, despite the slightly weak and cliched script, he delivers a performance for which he might as well get his suit ready for his next Oscar nomination.

It is of course a rather biased view of the Williams family (the fact that they are credited as producers of the film itself does raise some alarm bells), but it’s nonetheless an inspirational and ultimately a rather moving story.

The film feels and looks like it could have been made 30 years ago (including the several montage sequences cut to pop music). It’s rather conventional, naive, undemanding but also a warm crowd-pleaser, full of good intentions and some great performances: not just Will Smith, but the wonderful Aunjanue Ellis, sadly relegated by the much too small supportive role of the mother; the scene-stealer John Bethnal, who plays one the coaches; and the two new stars in the making: Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton in the roles of the Williams sisters, who apparently up until six months before filming had never played tennis.

Ultimately King Richard might be 20 minutes too long, but I’m sure despite its faults, you’ll warm up to it and you’ll be leaving the theatre with a big smile on your face.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Book tickets to watch this at Chiswick Cinema here: chiswickcinema.co.uk

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