Written by Zach Baylin and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard is a biographical film about Richard Williams, the father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, and stars Will Smith as the title role.
Richard Williams (Will Smith) lives with his wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) and his five children. He has planned for his two daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) to become professional players since before they were born. Richard and Brandy train them every day, as well as work, and due to Richard‘s persistence, they get the attention of tennis coaches who offer to help train Venus and Serena. But to the annoyance of their coaches, Richard has a particular path he wants his daughters to follow so they don’t have a similar fate to other young tennis players that became burned out, turned to drugs and contemplated suicide.
For the most part, King Richard is a feel good and inspirational film. Most people know that Venus Williams and Serena Williams have both gone on to have massively successful careers in tennis, but their journey and how much of an influence their father made might not be as known, and this film is a good way of showing that. Will Smith delivers a very strong performance as Richard Williams. At times, you admire his tenacity and the fact that he never gives up on his plan for his daughters when faced with adversity, but he can also be annoying when he is constantly interrupting the coaches during training sessions. I was also very impressed with the performances of Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as their performances really shined, which is especially impressive when they are acting with someone as talented as Will Smith, but all the actors really complimented each other on-screen.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the filming direction and cinematography on the way that the tennis matches were portrayed. It is cut in a way that you can see each time a player hits the tennis ball and where it is going to go on the court, which adds to the importance of the result of each match. Watching the training sequences was special from a historical point of view as the Williams sisters would go on to become two of the most influential and successful tennis players of all time.
A few minor issues that I had, is that some details from Richard‘s past are vaguely revealed but are then quickly swept under the rug without much explanation. I would also have liked a little more focus on Serena as the film spends a lot of time focusing on Venus, but these are just minor problems that I had in an otherwise well-made and enjoyable film.
King Richard is an uplifting film that is so engaging, it can make you laugh, cry, and leave you feeling inspired and in awe of this amazing family. This film will make you want to pursue your dreams no matter how out of reach they may seem.
King Richard will be released in Australian cinemas from the 13th of January 2022.