Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Writer: Zach Baylin
Starring: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn and Jon Bernthal
Following in the recent trend of biopics is King Richard, which follows the story of Richard Williams as he raises his two daughters, Venus and Serena, with his plan to make them into the world’s biggest tennis stars. Their names are well known, even outside of the tennis world, so it’s fitting to see their story on the big screen.
Richard Williams had a life plan for his two daughters becoming tennis stars before they were even born. At time’s he’s selfish and controlling and at others he is full of compassion, and you can tell he just wants his children to have the best life possible. Will Smith captures all of this perfectly, really showing the different aspects of Richard. He’s as charming as he is difficult. The writing by Zach Baylin also deserves a lot of credit for that. It would be very easy to turn someone like this into a one note character, but the complexity is authentically presented.
This is a film that is all about performances. Will Smith is incredible in the role of Richard Williams, the determined and sometimes overbearing father of the two tennis legends. Smith can really act, and he absolutely shows it here. He will probably and deservedly receive a lot of nominations for this performance.
The actors playing Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) are also fantastic. Stepping into the shoes of the sisters must be daunting, but both of them are great, feeling like true family. Aunjanue Ellis is excellent as Oracene Price, Richard’s wife and the sister’s mother. She’s just as determined as Richard to make sure her daughters succeed. Ellis also delivers one of the most emotional moments of the film. The whole family feels real and when they are all on screen together there is something special about it.
Like any biopic there is a certain extent of dramatic licence. There are scenes that probably didn’t happen the way they are presented. Things are contrived, but it doesn’t matter because this is a wholesome and uplifting story. The Williams’s sisters career is inspirational and incredible, and the film captures that.
King Richards is a celebration of two of the most successful tennis players of all time. It’s an inspiring story and told in a fun and engaging way. Whether you know the history or not, love tennis or can’t stand it, there is a lot to love here, and you will leave the film with a smile on your face.