King Richard Review


(Naomi Lenchner)

By Lexa Lemberg and Andrew Cherner

The movie King Richard has proven to be a big success, released on Nov. 19, in both theaters and on HBO Max. The story follows the lives of the Williams family with a focus on Richard, the father of world-class tennis players Serena and Venus Williams. From their first time holding a raquet to multiple National Titles, the story doesn’t miss a milestone. The movie opens with the sisters at a young age, just beginning their tennis career. In addition to detailing the lives of Serena and Venus, Richard and his progression as a character is also important to the narrative. 

Will Smith plays the role of Richard Williams well, filling the big shoes of this notable individual. His performance is full of emotion, drive, and determination. Smith plays this role to a T; an overbearing fatherly figure eager to see his daughters’ success. From working late nights to provide for his family while simultaneously coaching his daughters, Richard works harder than most parents to further both the academic and athletic careers of his children. Smith found the perfect balance between loving and strict parenting in his acting, creating an accurate portrayal of both his character and the tough love parents must demonstrate in order to see their children’s success.

While being a top tennis player is not easy to begin with, Serena and Venus faced additional adversity. Coming from Compton, Calif., they saw difficulty getting noticed by big coaches and receiving all of the resources needed for success. These hardships are shown throughout the movie, highlighted through scenes where they practice and the limited resources they have at home.

The cinematography of King Richard was outstanding. Each frame was full of deep, saturated colors, showing both the vibrancy and age of the story. Strategic angles were used when filming to add emotion and heighten intensity. The filming of the tennis matches had viewers on the edge of their seats, adding to the dramatic flare. Close up shots of the players faces combined with silent audience members and crisp sounds from the tennis court all increased the suspension and emotional response from viewers. Lastly, a montage of matches over a number of years were shown in one scene, allowing the short film to cover Serena and Venus’s entire childhood.

While the story primarily focused on Venus Williams and her relationship with her father, we believe there should have been a greater emphasis on her sister Serena. Although Venus was a better competitor as a child, Serena later proved to be a stronger player. The movie lacked showing Serena’s strong work ethic and struggle to overcome the long-standing sibling rivalry and ongoing competition between the two. Serena was treated as more of a background character, with few lines and limited screen time. 

The movie concluded with real footage from Serena and Venus’ childhood, making for a satisfying ending. The footage was a testament to the integrity of the story, highlighting the accuracy of the film. It wrapped up the storyline very well, showing the full circle of both sisters’ successful careers. King Richard checks all of the boxes that make a great film. Its superior casting and acting, paired with the impressive cinematography proved to be a great combination, both moving and educating the audience on the lives of two of the top tennis players in the world.