At the time of writing, the high-profile Venus and Serena Williams biopic, “King Richard” has scored (no pun intended) a total of 6 Academy Awards nominations. These include Best Picture, Best Actor (Will Smith), Best Supporting Actress (Aunjanue Ellis), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Song (Beyoncé’s “Be Alive“).
The movie stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the tennis coach-father determined to train his two daughters (Saniyya Sidney’s Venus and Demi Singleton’s Serena) in mastering tennis sports as part of his 78-page manifesto. Sure, it took 3 months for our local distributor (Warner Bros. Malaysia) to bring in “King Richard” (the movie is set to be released on February 17). But it’s worth the wait and just in time for the award season (read: the Oscars).
Whether you are a tennis enthusiast or a movie fan, here are the 5 reasons you should watch the Venus and Serena Williams biopic, “King Richard” when it arrives in our local cinemas this February 17.
1) Two Words: Will Smith
Most of us have grown accustomed to Will Smith in major Hollywood blockbusters, namely “Independence Day” (1996) and “Men in Black” (1997) to recent ones like “Aladdin” (2019) and “Bad Boys for Life” (2020). But he also turned out to be more than just a charismatic entertainer, as proven in prestige dramas like “Ali” (2001) and of course, “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006).
Will Smith’s lead role as Richard Williams is undoubtedly among the best performances I’ve ever seen. He completely inhabits his role in “King Richard”, looking nearly unrecognisable with the grizzled beard, even speaking in a Louisiana drawl. No doubt he deserved to land a Best Actor nomination for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. Personally, I would like to see him taking home the Oscar this time around.
2) Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton
No doubt that Will Smith is a scene-stealer in “King Richard”. But let’s not forget about Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton too, both relative newcomers who hold their own as Venus and Serena Williams. They share great on-screen chemistry too.
3) Strong Supporting Roles
I’m glad the director (Reinaldo Marcus Green) gives ample room for his ensemble cast to flex their acting muscles in this movie. Not just Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, and Demi Singleton but others as well. This is particularly evident with Aunjanue Ellis, who could have ended up playing the underwritten obligatory-wife role as Oracene. Fortunately, Ellis shows terrific support here. The same also goes with Jon Bernthal, who deserves an equal mention for his supporting turn as coach Rick Macci.
4) It Has A Unique Story Angle
“King Richard” could have gone the safer route by presenting the true story from the perspectives of Venus and Serena Williams. But Reinaldo Marcus Green and screenwriter Zach Baylin made a bold move by focusing on Will Smith’s Richard Williams playing an integral role in grooming his daughters to become future tennis pros. Their storytelling approach works well and this has to do with great performances all around, which helps elevate the otherwise typical biopic drama.
5) You Don’t Have To Be A Tennis Fan To Enjoy This Movie
Here’s the thing about making a biopic about famous or important figures: It’s best that you love or understand the subject. “King Richard” may be a tennis biopic about the hardworking father/tennis coach and his bound-to-be-superstar daughters. But personally, I’m not a tennis fan and I barely care about the popularity surrounding the news of Venus and Serena Williams. But kudos to Reinaldo Marcus Green for making “King Richard” as universal as possible, especially given the movie’s central and relatable themes of family dynamics and perseverance.
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