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King Richard


Stars: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn, Kevin Dunn, Brad Greenquist, Dylan McDermott

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Tennis films tend not to do very well at the box office, and despite the richness of Smith's performance, this is probably not going to break the mould. The star plays Richard Williams, aggressively domineering father of future tennis superstars Venus and Serena.

Richard, as tennis coaches and many others will find out, has massive social and racial chips on his shoulder, as well as often ignoring professional advice, as he believes he knows what's best for the sisters - two of his five girls. Venus and Serena show huge talent from an early age, but Richard is determined that they shall not get burnt out at a young age, withdrawing them from junior championships for three years, and only grudgingly allowing Venus a professional debut just before her 15th birthday.

Despite being nearly two and a half hours in runtime, the film rarely seems too long, and the portrayals from Ellis, as Richard's very long-suffering wife, and Sidney and Singleton, as the girls, are all good. And the tennis scenes are all well-shot. The narrative, however, is inevitably repetitive, sparked mostly by Richard's confrontations with authority as the family moves from its roots in Compton to affluence in Florida.

Perhaps the film is too soft on this controversial central character. But it does, of course, help bolster the movie's feelgood factor.

David Quinlan

USA/Australia 2021. UK Distributor: Warner Bros. Colour by Company 3.
144 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Nov 2021