Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and HBO Max from Warner Bros. and director Reinaldo Marcus Green is the story of a father who wants nothing but the best for his children with KING RICHARD.

It is the 1990’s when Richard Williams (Will Smith) and wife Oracene (Aunjanue Ellis) are raising their five daughters in Compton, California. Making it constantly clear that he has a 78-page plan for his daughters’ lives, he is working with Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) on their tennis skills.

Knowing it is getting time to reach out for coaching, Richard turns to Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn), the man responsible for the likes of Pete Sampras in the tennis world. After seeing them hit a few balls, Cohen agrees to take on Venus but can not take Serena. Richard begins recording everything for Serena to see and use.

When the time comes, Richard decides that his children’s lives are more important than tennis matches when he sees players in the junior circuit breaking down. Letting Cohen go, he turns to Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) who takes the entire family to Florida where only then does Richard make it clear that school, church and family all come before tennis.

A few years later, Venus decides to make it clear that she is ready for something more. When Richard and Oracene get into an argument about what he wants versus his daughter, family secrets come flowing out that are painful but a reality.

Richard realizes he needs to let go and trust that everything he has taught his girls is coming to fruition. It is time to cheer everything the family has accomplished!

Smith as Richard gives us the performance we would expect from this actor. The role of Richard is a bit of a pain with his outspoken ways and passive aggressive tantrums, but Smith gets the job of portraying the man done. Playing a man who loves his family and would do anything for them seems to be right up Smiths alley, so Smith certainly chose well for this role.

Ellis as Oracene is a woman who supports her husband, except when its time to pull him aside and set things right. I love Ellis’ boldness in making sure Richard understands he may think he’s king, but the family are not his peasants. The scene in the kitchen in Florida is the perfect “you tell him lady!” when Ellis brings Oracene’s voice out loud and clear.

Bernthal as Macci signs on big and believes in the girls, what he did not count on was dealing with a father who refuses to budge once he sets his mind to something. That does not take the focus off the girls as Bernthal believes in their future, so much so that Macci eventually trusts in what the girls want for themselves. Well done in this role and nice mustache!

Goldwyn as Paul sees in Venus and Serena everything their father does but in a way that is practical and follows the formula of successful tennis. Butting heads with Richard is a full-time job and Goldwyn as Paul holds his own even if that means giving in to demands.

Sidney as Venus is a lovely young girl who believes in everything her father wants for tennis success. Following that plan, she plays the junior circuit and when Dad says stop, she stops trusting he knows what’s best. There eventually comes a point where she believes it is time to speak for herself and I loved it. Sidney is a lovely young woman who handles herself in this film with grace and style.

Singleton as Serena starts out just as strong as the other tennis star of the family. Serena does get lost in the mix when she steps back a little, but Richard finally tells her the one thing that she needs to hear, that her time will come. Singleton takes her role graciously and, as we all know, Serena’s time came, and it was something to see!

Other cast include Makayla Bartholomew as Tunde, Daniele Lawson as Isha, Layla Crawford as Lyndrea, Erika Ringor as Ms. Strickland, Brad Greenquist as Bud Collins and Kevin Dunn as Vic Braden.

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KING RICHARD won the Audience Choice Award for Feature Film at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Audience Award at Film Fest 919, Heartland International Film Festival for Overall Audience Choice Award and Pioneering Spirit Award for Will Smith, Narrative Audience Award at the Philadelphia Film Festival and the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award for Aunjanue Ellis at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

The film is the story of the tennis stars Williams sisters and the man responsible for bringing them to the sports attention, their father Richard Williams. Smith gives us a portrayal of the man who believed in sacrificing nothing when it comes to his family. He, along with wife Oracene believed in their faith, family and making sure their daughters took their education seriously.

Starting in Compton surrounded by people who, at time, seemed to enjoy hurting Richard, it did not stop the family from moving forward. Even when their own neighbor tried to intervene for nasty reasons, the Williams family still pushed forward and that is nothing short of inspirational.

Coming in at 138 minutes, KING RICHARD is really a story of family doing something together that inspired each other to strive for excellence. Richard himself was definetly a flawed human being yet, along with Oracene, they kept their family together and that means everything.

In the end – it is a true story you have to see to believe!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.