By: Amanda Guarragi
Throughout history we have seen shifts in certain industries and that is because of peoples determination to change the system. A system that has worked against marginalized groups of people for decades. One man had a plan, a 78-page plan for his daughters, and his name is Richard Williams (Will Smith). He was determined to write his daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton), into history. He would coach them on tennis courts in Compton, California, he helped shape their commitment and love for the sport. Even though his teaching methods were unconventional, it always came with the best intentions.
As someone who really enjoys watching father/daughter relationships on screen, the connection in King Richard felt a bit strained for me. There was closeness between Richard, Venus and Serena, but they somehow felt disconnected at the same time. The warmth of the family dynamic actually came from Brandi Williams (Aunjanue Ellis) and it felt like she held the family together more. As talented of a performer Will Smith is, and he will most likely win an Oscar for this performance, it wasn’t his best, we just missed seeing him. That’s all I kept thinking while watching this, is how much I’ve missed him on the big screen. Which shouldn’t equate to how good his performance is in this.
The film somewhat disappointed me because it had strong emotional beats and really beautiful, uplifting moments but it dragged on. All of the great moments felt lost within the pacing of this film and the odd choices from Reinaldo Marcus Green. I felt like the script, written by Zach Baylin was strong and he knew the story Venus and Serena wanted to tell, but the execution of it lacked any form of inspiration in the storytelling. The story was well-written and the performances were strong but the direction was weak, which made it a chore to sit through. Even the editing and the framing of the tennis matches didn’t capture the essence or even the spirit of the Williams sisters.
King Richard has plenty of beautiful moments showing that love, hard work and humility will always help you through life no matter what. If it weren’t for Will Smith’s performance as Richard Williams, this film wouldn’t have been as strong as it was. The supporting cast also helped this movie along the way with Ellis really shining alongside the breath of fresh air that was Jon Bernthal midway through the film. Even though the story is very inspirational, Marcus Green did not translate that through the visual storytelling in this film to create that atmosphere.