In his almost three decades of film stardom, Will Smith has yet to win an Academy Award.
That may be about to change.
Smith’s newest movie, “King Richard,” is from director Reinaldo Marcus Green. The film tells the story of Richard Williams (Smith) raising his two daughters Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) as tennis prodigies growing up in Compton, Calif.
There are a multitude of reasons why this film is successful.
First off, Smith delivers what very well may be the best performance of his career. The paternal Williams is a complex character who makes many morally ambiguous decisions throughout the picture, but Smith delivers this to perfection. While another actor may play certain scenes in a superficial manner, Smith really dives into the character, delivering countless scenes with immense gravitas, brevity and just the right amount of comedic and charismatic touch. After seeing this picture, it is unfathomable to imagine another actor playing “King Richard,” which signifies the quality of the performance.
A lead performance goes a long way for a picture, but it isn’t all that’s necessary to produce a successful product. One key piece of a well-executed film, of course, is a well-written storyline. While the future of the Williams sisters is relatively well-known, the story itself still maintains its stakes. The dialogue of “King Richard” is brilliantly written, with countless clever lines and moments. The ambiguity of the main character is also executed to perfection, as the film doesn’t necessarily take sides with its lead. This overall makes the story all the more interesting and more reflective of real life.
One thing I particularly like about “King Richard” is that it delivers a sequential story. Now not every film needs to be delivered in a sequential order (see “Pulp Fiction” for example), but there are many films that have no need to be non-chronological. Modern biographical films, for some reason, tend to employ such non-chronological structures more than others. Some work well, such as 2010’s “The Social Network,” but some may have worked better if they were chronological, like 2007’s “Into the Wild.” “King Richard” tells a story that is best executed sequentially, even though much of the audience is aware of how the story “ends.” The stakes and the weight of the storyline are best maximized with this structure.
If I were to have any complaints about this picture, I would say some of the drama is a bit melodramatic, having varying degrees of quality. Of course, nothing is completely perfect in this regard, but “King Richard” has many sequences of emotion, of which some are successful and others are not as so. Ultimately, since the film is so well-executed in other areas, this doesn’t severely impact the final outcome.
Ultimately, due to an all-time great performance from Will Smith, fantastic dialogue and a brilliantly written story, “King Richard” earns a strong recommendation from me. This is most definitely the best film I have seen so far this year. Expect this film to play a major role in the upcoming awards season.