18 Nov 21
Tennis star sisters Serena and Venus Williams are undoubtedly two of the most successful – and inspiring – sportspeople in the world. Between them they have won an astonishing 30 Grand Slam titles, and have dominated courts across the world, but just where has that talent come from? Is their extraordinary sporting prowess a result of nature or nurture? That's a question director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) seeks to answer in his new film King Richard, which documents the Williams' journey from schoolgirl players to champions. The focus of the screenplay from Zach Baylin (who will next be writing Creed III for Michael B. Jordan) is the girls' father, Richard Williams, played by two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith (who also produces).
In a performance already being touted for awards consideration, Smith gets deep under the skin of his intriguing character. This is a man who, having faced racial discrimination all his life, is determined that his girls should use their considerable talents to build a better future for themselves far outside their hometown of Compton, LA, even if that means making some extremely difficult — and potentially divisive — choices.
Smith is joined in the impressive cast by Aunjanue Ellis (If Beale Street Could Talk), who plays Richard's wife, Oracene "Brandi" Williams; Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) as Venus; Demi Singleton (TV's Godfather of Harlem) as Serena; and Jon Bernthal (The Many Saints Of Newark) as coach Rick Macci. The talent is just as stellar behind the camera, which is wielded by Oscar-winning director of photography Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood). He is joined by two-time Oscar-nominated costume designer Sharen Davis (Dreamgirls and Ray), Oscar-nominated editor Pamela Martin (The Fighter) and Oscar-nominated composer Kris Bowers (TV's Bridgerton).
Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of California, to the global stage as legendary icons. The profoundly moving film shows the power of family, perseverance and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world. As Richard and his daughters must rally against alienation and prejudice before they can even so much as pick up a racket, the film reveals itself to be as much a powerful and affecting social drama as it is an uplifting sporting movie. Nikki Baughan
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