A biopic about a tennis champion father sees a Hollywood star struggle with a story of redemption, victory but also defeat
Achi tells him that he definitely can’t have Mozart at home, he replies that he has two. Two extraordinary talents, known to the world once every hundred years. Of course, in his case, they dealt not with the sphere of music, but sports, and he firmly believed in them: he not only hoped, but also performed double miracles.
This middle-aged, penniless man from this kind of ghetto is the father of Venus and Serena Williams, two of the strongest champions in tennis history and arguably the first black athlete to achieve excellence in a discipline. fair skin. His story became a film (produced by his daughter, of course), A Winning Family – King Richard, now in Italian theaters.
To interpret this charismatic, tenacious and somewhat despotic character is Will Smith (new from the editorial success of his memoir Will, published in Italy by Longanesi), who not only puts his face in the project, because he buys from the producer. This means that he has as much voice on the matter as two tennis players.
Reinaldo Marcus Green is directing the biopic and, by his own admission, he doesn’t know much about the game. Perhaps this is why the speed of the film is so languid (lasts almost two and a half hours), instead of following the thrilling editing of sports metaphors on the big screen.
The idea is this: Richard (Will Smith) has five daughters – all girls – to look after, on strict wages and in one of Los Angeles’ most toxic neighborhoods, Compton. But he sees an opportunity – or rather he creates it – and trains his two girls to become number one in a discipline he knows nothing about. On a dilapidated suburban field, with balls picked up and handwritten banners of encouragement, the man directs Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) to practice worthy of Mimì Ayuara (okay, she plays volleyball, that’s a cartoon. and uses a chain on his wrist, but the concept remains more or less that way). Whatever the weather, he wanted to keep them out of the way, so he came up with a 78-page plan explaining how to turn them into superstars without a penny for uniforms, tournaments, or coaches.
The film tells it again and again and again, often in a didactic way, to make it clear how much discipline, how much effort and how much practice it takes to reach the podium. This man – to understand it – is the one who forces the family to watch the animated film after it until all the members explain to him in detail the main message of the Disney story. Exhausting? Very. immovable? To say the least.
However, despite everything and thanks to all of this, Richard accomplished a double miracle: at the age of 15, Venus found herself in a position to turn down a $3 million contract before she even took the field to race as a professional in the strict sense of the word. .
Chapeau, applause, curtain? Not at all: Richard was never satisfied, he had limitless ambition and lived by his rules. He manages to hire for free – but with a lot of profit on his part – two of the biggest coaches on the market, Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn, former US President in Scandal) and Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal of The Punisher). His wife Brandi (Aunjanue Ellis) tells him that she needs extraordinary approval: she wants the world to bow before her and crown her. That’s why “king” Richard.
No goal is enough for him because he always finds the next level, further challenge, another goal to beat.
Whether the daughters have been brainwashed or, outside of paternal conditioning, have found their way through Richard’s persistence is hard to say. If the Machiavellian finally justifies the way, then this really is – as the title suggests – a winning family.
There is little concern, however, in childhood and adolescence these girls have given up, the voice you hear is always and only the voice of the father, the only one that really counts in the house.
What’s missing, then, in this film is a bit of heart, along with some more fragility that evokes more empathy and less irritation in audiences.