“King Richard” is Inspiring and Uplifting


Photo courtesy Warner Bros.

Mark Ruffin

The names Venus and Serena Williams are synonymous with tennis and excellence. The accolades of these amazing woman are known to most people.

Filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus approach to the film, “King Richard,” is unique because he decided to focus on what made the sisters special: the support of their family. The film could have easily been a copy and paste of the sister’s life, but the film is a study of the Williams family.

What is interesting about “King Richard” is that even if you are not a tennis fan, this film will move you.

The film is a powerful drama that is magnetic and moving. It lives and breathes the story of Serena (Demi Singleton) and Venus (Saniyya Sidney) Williams’ beginnings on the tennis court in the ‘90s and the family environment that cultivated their blindingly bright futures – particularly driven by their father, Richard Williams (Will Smith).

“King Richard” is a contemporary drama that has the makings of becoming a classic.

“King Richard” tells the story from the perspective of their father and coach. This approach should not work, but while it may take away focus from these talented women’s accomplishments, it only strengthens the foundation as to how we understand these tennis champions.

Following very commercial Will Smith movies, such as “Bad Boys for Life,” “Aladdin,” and “Gemini Man,” the actor steps out of his comfort zone as Richard Williams.

In “King Richard,” Smith plays against his type; he is awkward and misunderstood. Early in the film, he gets knocked down and beaten by teenagers in front of his children. He is rarely eloquent. Richard Williams is quite the opposite of the larger-than-life persona of Will Smith.

“King Richard” is patient. It is not easy for a movie about a real person, never mind two famous tennis athletes, to take its time to develop a bond with an audience. However, between Zach Baylin’s fantastic script, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s direction, and several memorable performances, the movie manages to both sit with you and hold your attention.

Sure, it has the all-too-familiar inspiring energy one would expect from a movie on this subject matter. However, staying focused on Serena and Venus’ upbringing at a specific time and then honing in on certain elements of their relationship with tennis as well as their family, is confident and deliberate which leaves you wanting to follow the Williams’ achievements for a lifetime.

“King Richard” is a movie that leaves one blown away by Serena and Venus Williams as you’d expect, but even more than that, the movie deliberates a memorable message about how powerful upbringing is to creating good people and success.

It’s a cathartic experience about the weight of being protected, genuinely loved, and respected by a parent. So often we are fed stories about successful people who were broken down, forced and/or hardened by their passion or profession and this take on the sub-genre was refreshing. “King Richard” is a beautiful example demonstrating that confident and balanced diligence can create world champions.