King Richard is about the inspiring story of Richard Williams (Will Smith) and his meticulous plan for his daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton), to become tennis champions and earn a better life. The biopic, endorsed by the Williams family, is a heartwarming depiction of strength, perseverance, and the value of family.
This film transcends the expectations of a typical sports biopic. The writing, acting, music, and overall execution of the Williams family story is exceptional. The emotional impact was legitimate and resonated well.
King Richard focuses on Richard Williams and his undying fatherly love for his daughters. This story perspective offers a beautiful image of a supportive father figure that is not too often depicted in Hollywood. Even though Richard Williams leads the film, a compelling family portrait still manages to be painted.
Brandy Williams (Aunjanue Ellis) was represented and given a dynamic role in the story despite the film being named after Richard Williams. The passion of a mother and father’s love for their children was a consistent theme throughout that was exemplified in a number of very genuine ways. Venus and Serena may be the tennis stars that the world at large recognizes, but King Richard unveils the unrelenting support of loved ones that is required on the journey to success.
The struggle of the journey to success was well established, but the highlighting conflict of the film was in the family’s interpersonal disputes. As a financially less fortunate family of color from Compton, the odds are stacked against them in achieving tennis stardom but even as success and recognition are tossed their way, friction continues to build. This writing choice highlights the family’s pitfalls along with the tightness of their relationship, creating a relatable and grounded storyline that is believable.
A particularly memorable example of this authenticity was in the kitchen scene when Richard and Brandi Williams clashed over each of their contributions to the benefit of their family. This scene felt very real and honest to the inevitable imperfections of families. These imperfections and conflicting wants made the emotional connection with the characters and their goals moving and impactful.
In terms of acting, it is no secret that Will Smith shined brightly in his performance as Richard Williams. His personality and character traits were endearing and reflective of an imperfect father with the best intentions at heart. Naturally, his demeanor was convincing and overall very likable. The Oscar buzz around his performance is well justified.
A few other notable performances were from Aunjanue Ellis as Brandy Williams and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams. Aunjanue Ellis portrayed a passionate mother whose quiet strength served as the backbone of the family. Her role may have been somewhat limited in its number of lines, but her presence was consistently strong and made well known through her delivery.
Saniyya Sidney did an amazing job at telling the story of Venus Williams. She showed a physical dedication to training and studying tennis in her performance. She also was able to harness amazing chemistry with Will Smith and Demi Singleton that was engaging and added to the relational and intimate power of the story as a whole.
The score of King Richard was very effective in adding an energetic element to the film. This was especially notable in scenes featured on the tennis court. The racket shots were synced with the music and added a strong note of tension and release that was cathartic to experience as a viewer.
King Richard was made for a much wider audience than just tennis fans. It is a film that is made for all ages and anyone that can appreciate an inspirational underdog story. This film has much to offer and proves to be an exceptional piece of storytelling that is worth a watch.