Grab a racket and keep your eye on the ball with King Richard. Starring the ever-talented Will Smith as Richard Williams, proud father and amateur coach to his two superstar daughters Venus and Serena, this is a picture that shows how extraordinary things can come from humble beginnings.
Based on the true story that will inspire the world, Warner Bros. Pictures’ King Richard follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever. Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons. The profoundly moving film shows the power of family, perseverance and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world.
Richard Williams is the man with a dream, a goal and a plan. A true visionary, he’s equipped with a 78-page plan, signs and grainy video rehearsal footage to boot. Legend tells Williams established this vision before the birth of Venus and Serena. We see his grit and determination to give his daughters the best chance at life beyond the ghetto and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure this comes true. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green intimately captures the love and devotion of a father, who is epically portrayed by Hollywood legend Will Smith and who truly is the heart of this film. Coaching his daughters on a simple tennis court and making every effort to protect them from the dangers of the world they are growing up around. There is no limit to which he will go to see his daughters succeed and Smith brings all of his talents as an actor to the role.
Alongside Smith’s endearing performance as Richard Williams, are look-alikes Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton who make an impressive debut as Venus and Serena. Both Sidney and Singleton deserve full recognition for their portrayal of the future tennis superstars and we come to see the journey that they take to reach this lofty goal. Both young actresses interact well with Smith and it’s in these interactions that we see the often challenging dynamics that are present within the Williams’ household. While Smith portrays Williams as a devoted father, who is optimistic and enthusiastic in his moves to see them to a higher level, there’s also a competitive dark side to his conflicted character and when this side emerges it gives the film an edge. We come to learn how Williams own childhood impacted his drive for success and there is an interesting exploration of how childhood moments can come to define our lives and actions as adults.
Considerable praise also has to be levelled at actress Aunjanue Ellis who stars as Oracene “Brandy” Price, Richard’s wife and the mother of Venus and Serena. As Brandy, Ellis is a committed and strong-willed maternal figure who shares in her husband’s grand vision. But Richard’s intensity and dark side impacts their marriage at times and there’s a great deal of drama that exists between the two characters and Ellis certainly holds court with Smith on an equal playing field. Like Smith’s performance as Richard Williams, Ellis’ performance as Brandy allows us to see the influence that parents have on their children and how their actions shape them into who they are.
King Richard packs together moments of family drama, laugh-out-loud humour and intense suspense and this narrative will have you hooked from the opening frame. Those seeking some solid tennis action are also rewarded with some great footage courtesy of cinematographer Robert Elswit and he grounds the audience in the action that takes place out on the court. There’s also some solid 80s classic tunes thrown into the film for good measure, and you’re sure to find your groove as the narrative progresses and Venus and Serena move up the ranks.
King Richard is a film that the whole family will be enchanted with and it features some of the best performances you’ll see all year. It’s a touching story of how one family’s love and devotion to another lead to the achievement of an incredible dream and all who watch it are sure to come away inspired.
Image: Warner Brothers