King Richard (12A) Review - Long Live the King

A film about two of the most recognised faces in tennis isn't actually about them but rather their dad. Does it do Serena and Venus Williams justice?

Anna Marczynska
24th November 2021
Credit: IMDb
How it all started for Venus and Serena is a little before our time, as most of us had not even been born when these two tennis legends started their careers. But while they are at the center of the tennis world, they are not the centre of King Richard, which instead focuses on their dad Richard, played by Will Smith.
Will Will Smith be in the runnings for an Academy Award, or will that just be a Will Myth? Credit: IMDb

As someone who has held a tennis racket maybe once in my life and hasn’t seen a single tennis match, I was skeptical at first. Thankfully the sport is just a background for a moving story about the dedication and human decency that got the Williams sisters the chance to compete. Richard Williams does not take “no” for an answer, but it has its consequences. The film takes you step by step from when Venus Williams was about 11 years old to when she played against a world champion at 14, gaining international attention. 

It does not shy away from showing the audience how difficult Richard was for those close to him, which makes Smith’s performance feel even more real. However, he doesn’t carry this film alone. There are so many great performances here, especially with Venus and Serena's mother Brandi Williams (Aunjanue Ellis) and Rick Macci (John Bernthal) making every scene more vibrant. The same cannot be said about the young actresses playing Venus and Serena, who mostly just smile and run around, which isn’t an exaggeration. But what really takes you out of the film most of all is the music. It’s generic to the point where you feel it might be a joke. 

Its lead perfomances engage you emotionally

This sports drama doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but the lead performances engage you emotionally, making this grueling and seemingly impossible journey toward professional tennis into something you want to watch. Despite having some issues, it keeps you on your toes by taking in the audience as part of the Williams family. Most importantly, it feels genuine in its portrayal of Richard as someone, whose dedication and stubbornness paved the path for his daughters to thrive.

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