The King (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/10/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Impressively directed, frequently shocking drama, featuring stunning performances from both William Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal.

The Background
The King is the feature debut by British documentary-maker James Marsh, who contacted co-screenwriter Milo Addica after reading his script for the as-yet-unproduced Monster’s Ball in 2001. The result is a controversial drama with future cult movie written all over it.

The Story
Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries) stars as Elvis Valderez, a 21 year old man who gets an honourable discharge from the Navy and heads straight for Corpus Christi, Texas, in order to find his long-lost father, David Sandow (William Hurt).

Once Elvis arrives in Corpus Christi he discovers that David is the pastor of a fundamentalist congregation with the perfect wife (Laura Harring, from Mulholland Drive) and two perfect kids: aspiring Bible student Paul (Paul Dano) and 16 year-old Malerie (Pell James, the flowershop girl from Broken Flowers). Seeing Elvis as the embodiment of his past sins, David wants nothing to do with his illegitimate son.

The Good
There’s a distinct air of The Talented Mr Ripley about the morally complex Elvis and Bernal perfectly captures his charismatic yet sinister qualities. It’s an astonishing performance – chilling, and yet likeable at the same time.

In addition, William Hurt delivers one of his best performances as David, a reformed man desperate to correct the mistakes he has made in his life, but fatally blinded to his son’s true intentions. He also sports a truly spectacular moustache.

The Great
Marsh creates an impressive level of authenticity through some extraordinary location work. On top of that, there’s an evocative score by Max Avery Lichtenstein that adds considerably to the intensity of the film’s atmosphere.

The Conclusion
In short, this is a controversial, frequently horrific but hypnotically compelling film that is guaranteed to have you hiding behind your hands on at least three occasions. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The King (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 19:52

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