The Oscar season is here and the nominations are out. And it is time to fill in the gaps! So while going through the nominations I came across a film name which I hadn’t previously heard about(maybe because of my ignorance). The film was the English film King Richard. Almost immediately I decided to check the synopsis and to my surprise the film was a biopic on the life of Richard Williams who was the father and coach of the two superstars of tennis Venus Williams and Serena Williams. And the film had me there. Back home we have watched a similar story in the Hindi film Dangal featuring Mahavir Phogat who mentored the Phogat sisters. So I finished watching King Richard last night. Is the film worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
King Richard is the story of Richard Williams who was the father and coach of the two superstars of tennis Venus Williams and Serena Williams. And the story is a heartwarming one. Often sports biopics do follow a fixed template which may not be entirely wrong. But the way sports is shown and whether or not it will strike a chord either with the drama or with sports itself is what forms the fate of the film. The screenplay here is brilliantly penned with almost no subplots featuring their personal life. There is a passing reference of the neighbourhood where they are brought up and the people around them. But the good part is that not much time is invested in it and the entire focus is on the two girls and their father(along with tennis). The father-daughters bond is a heartwarming one that gently tugs the strings of your heart. Each parent is protective about their kids and here too the protective side of Richard is nicely tapped in the drama. The fact that he distinctly teaches his kids to stay humble despite massive success is what actually may have shaped the careers of two legends of tennis history. The references of discrimination based on colour is also tapped efficiently.
And coming to the sports element – often the writers or the makers make a mistake of either trying to cram in a lot of it or very little of it. But here the sports element(tennis) is brilliantly shown. You are often on the edge of your seat especially in the final match. Witnessing the making of a champion was never so sweet and inspiring. Overall, a well written screenplay which ends with clips of the two sisters in real life playing tennis which just is goosebumps worthy!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are inspiring and they definitely teach you a lesson or two in life. But moreover, they are relatable and a reflection of words which are spoken by our parents. The music is pretty good and gels well with the drama, the BGM is first rate as well. Some of the tennis scenes actually show the shots being connected as opposed to some random jump cuts, which means the editing and cinematography are top notch. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green does a phenomenal job keeping the drama subtle and real. And he also manages to hold your attention throughout which means a job done right.
The performances are top notch. Jon Bernthal as Rick and Tony Goldwyn as Paul have their moments to shine. Aunjanue Ellis as Brandy is wonderfully restrained. Demi Singleton as Serena Williams is first rate. Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams definitely packs a punch and delivers a balanced performance. Will Smith as Richard Williams is the life of the film. He commands your attention throughout in what is a brilliant performance.
King Richard is one of the most heartfelt sports drama of recent times. Witnessing the making of two champion Tennis players(Venus and Serena Williams) was inspiring and goosebumps worthy. Highly Recommended!