Reinaldo Marcus Green directs Will Smith, Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney in this biopic of Venus and Serena’s ambitious, committed and mercurial father.
How you approach this will define how much you appreciate it. A Will Smith vehicle that stretches him with both eyes clearly on Awards season? Or an inspirational biopic of the Williams sisters – the biggest names in tennis for the entirety of this century? I came for both, so was mightily satisfied, but if you just come for the latter you’ll need to be a tad patient as this is a movie far more focussed on the parenting than the match points. The somewhat extreme parenting. Richard Williams is clearly a fascinating figure. The Fresh Prince tries to dial back his natural likability and try to play him as Denzel might. Now Smith might not have to acting talent of Mister Washington but he certainly tries hard here and dominates the movie, battling to master the drama as much as the jokes. He’s certainly a Best Actor Oscar contender based on the psychologically complex portrait that is achieved. The second hour Venus’ agency and talent start to come to the fore. She starts pushing against her father’s protection of her talent, making her own decisions, playing for her self. We get there, to her story rather than his story, but it takes a lotta of movie for it to feel like that. This possibly spins its wheels a little too long before we get to “the big match”. If I was guessing why there is so much air and repetition here I’d wager it is a project that maybe has one overly invested executive producer too many. Yet there is tons of good stuff and fine stuff, nothing included is bloat. I’d certainly watch it again.
Perfect Double Bill: The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
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