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King Richard

Will Smith plays Richard Williams, who wrote a playbook that guided their daughters, Venus and Serena, to world champion tennis players. Will Smith is great; I don’t find him terribly convincing in many of his roles, but he immerses himself into this role as a father driven to his daughters’ success, both on and off the court. After watching the movie, he plays exactly the right character: Someone who is just as focused on making a name for himself as for his daughters. This supreme focus and self-centeredness, which he plays so well, detracts somewhat from the overall story. Their mother is clearly a powerful force in their lives, but her role is somewhat, but not always, downplayed. I also would have liked to have seen more from the perspective of their daughters and more of how they came to be the tennis players they were. Everything is through the lens of Richard. It that sense, it makes for a very different kind of biopic. Despite these minor inconveniences, it is hard not to get caught up in such an inspirational story and one that has no doubt inspired so many, particularly young Black women, around the world. What Richard and his wife did to nurture the future world champions, and the sacrifices they made, is amazing. Thumbs up from me. (2021, 4 Stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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