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Film Review: “King Richard” (2021)


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Serena and Venus Williams are arguably the world’s best female tennis players. Even though my personal favorite is Serena Williams, it was like a journey going back in time to witness the rise of two sisters to stardom as intelligent athletes, perhaps, like chess players, but in tennis. Therefore, it was intriguing to see the path that has taken them towards achieving their goals, the 78-page plan drawn by their father, Richard Williams, and miraculous to execute.

“King Richard” follows the titular character Richard Williams (Will Smith), a harsh, straightforward, and known for his controversial decisions father who believes he has two best players in the world living under his roof. While the accent is put towards Venus, it’s up to her mother Oracene “Brandy” Price (Aunjanue Ellis) to prepare Serena (Demi Singleton) to be even better. The journey of Richard is bumpy, but the man knows if he follows his so-called business plan, things will just play out accordingly. Met with skepticism, soon everyone who doubted him, his wife and daughters will be proven wrong, as the two sisters will conquer the tennis court like a storm, sweeping one opponent after another.

The film focuses on the elder sister, Venus, who must show her father she can go into junior tournaments and beat all her opponents. Richard’s parenting skills are shaky sometimes. But listening to him you will understand every father must do what he does. Not just draw a 78-page plan, but help the children grow and become somebody, a respectful member of society. The choices made are mostly correct, because of the parenting time they have gotten at home. Therefore, it never creates a negative impression on Richard’s attitude no matter from what angle you look at. At times he gets it wrong and, most of the time keeps his wife out of his decision giving you the feeling that she should be participating too.

Their dialogue at home shows why Williams’ mother must be taken into consideration and receive her long-overdue credit. Because without her, Richard Williams, you can tell by looking at the film, would not be as successful. However, as you watch the sisters, mostly, Venus, you realize her power – the sister power. You know they have a goal. They love the game. They live it. It runs in their DNA. Therefore, by the time Venus takes the main court against Vicari, you will see that spark not only in her eyes but in the eyes of Serena Williams too – the storm is coming.

Will Smith as the patriarch of the family delivers an award-worthy performance that qualifies him as an instant frontrunner. He captures decency and honesty. He provides the best portrayal possible of a man that may not be looked favorably now in the eyes of many. But if we fast-forward back and see how protective he was and not money-hungry, you kind of realize why it’s better having a father like him than someone who would use their own child for the sake of money and wealth.

As for the film itself, it’s a decent sports drama based on a true story. While I do not know much of what I have seen in the film is true or not, but the involvement of Serena and Venus Williams as producers, no doubt they have run their own fact-check. The well-directed and solid script creates plenty of opportunities for actors to shine,  but the main stage belongs to Will Smith, who grabs the opportunity and never lets it go.

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