King Richard (2021) - 6/10
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
I don’t profess to know a lot about Tennis. Even less about the tour and even less than that about what happens behind the scenes with the families. This isn’t really about tennis though. What I do know is this is more of a fluff piece than a biography. One in which Richard Williams (Will Smith) tailors his daughters Venus and Serena for tennis domination. Through Richard’s dogged determination, fostering a strong work ethic and keeping his girls out of trouble. You should take this with a pinch of salt, it’s not a documentary. The key points though, I believe are accurate enough and it is a very good story. A poor but aspirational and hard working young black family with five daughters and a dream. Trying to break into a sport controlled by rich white people. It’s an unlikely tale to bring any success, but of course that’s exactly what happened. Maybe it’s my don’t fuss british sensibilities, but part of me finds Richard irritating. Or maybe it’s Smith that grates a little. He’s not a bad actor, but this feels like a caricatured portrayal. Richard is a pushy know-it-all. Arrogant and stubborn. He’s just not very likeable. It’s not a huge problem, it’s probably truthful, but as a glossy lead film character it is a barrier. This is a glossy film, the needle drop heavy score, the heavily curated narrative. It’s very surface. There are a couple of cultural touch points, race, drugs, gang violence. It’s called King Richard though and it’s his story at the centre. A man scared of failure. His or his children’s. Like I said it’s an interesting story, but truthfully I’d be more interested in the girl’s perspective and after two and a half hours only getting to the beginning of their careers is frustrating. I’m not going to slate this too much though. It’s just too positive a story to be too negative, but it really could’ve been better.