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This biopic of Venus and Serena Williams’ father is a perfectly fine yet frustratingly sanitised movie, elevated by a handful of impressive performances.

Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were fully on board with the approach of King Richard, a biopic about their father and how he was the major force behind their stellar careers, but therein lies the problem with the picture.

While the film - after an admittedly slow and meandering start - does eventually bring the rags-to-riches feelgood factor you would expect, be it without many surprises or innovations, you feel throughout that the roughest edges of the tale have been softened, leading to a perfectly fine yet frustratingly sanitised tale, that also annoyingly shifts its central focus in the final stretch.

The safe direction and a lack of excitement in the filming of the tennis games add to the mediocrity of King Richard as well. Luckily the movie does contain some excellent performances. Will Smith is gaining the most attention in awards season for his lead role, but I was much more impressed by Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two young actors portraying Venus and Serena, by Jon Bernthal as their coach and especially Aunjanue Ellis as mother Oracene. They elevate King Richard above movie-of-the-week territory.

release: 2021

director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

starring: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton


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