The King

"Very Good"

The King Review


The creepy prodigal son tale The King takes a young sailor (just out of the navy) named Elvis, sends him to find his father, a born-again preacher who never married Elvis' mom (a whore), then falls in love with the preacher's teenage daughter (his half-sister), and somehow never descends into sheer idiocy. This may be pulp material, but the telling is first-rate.Elvis is played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who, in his second English-language role, absolutely walks away with the film. His Elvis is an intriguing blank from the get-go, striding off his ship and back into the world with just a small bag of clothes and a his M1 rifle (how he was able to smuggle this out of the military so easily is never quite clear). In a sharply-edited opening sequence - first-time feature director James Marsh has a tight hold on his material - Elvis heads to his childhood home of Corpus Christi, visits a hooker, buys a car, checks into a motel, and finds his father, all with the same determined yet casual expression on his face; just checking things off his list. His father, David Sandow (William Hurt, managing not to overact for once, even with the bad facial hair and deep Texas accent) is a preacher at a small church where his teenage son plays uptempo Christian rock songs and service times are announced outside on a garish red LED display. When Elvis finally confronts his estranged father, Sandow acknowledges that that was a different time in his life and tells Elvis in no uncertain terms to stay the hell away from his family.Elvis is nothing, however, if not determined. He starts shadowing the Sandows, quickly befriending, and then seducing, their 16-year-old daughter Malerie (a sunny Pell James). The fact that this is his half-sister doesn't seem to bother Elvis one bit. He's content to work his pizza delivery job, assist Malerie in some good old-fashioned pastor's daughter rebellion, and worm his way ever closer into their lives. It's easy to see how Malerie falls for Elvis. Bernal's insistently cheery and earnest demeanor would, when used to full effect, melt the iciest of hearts. It's a sublimely subtle performance, likeable to the extreme, yet showing a flicker of sociopathy every now and again to keep everything unhinged just enough.Marsh co-wrote the elegant script with Milo Addica, a co-writer on Monster's Ball, a film which shares with this one a red-state setting and certain bloody sense of fate. They aren't afraid to upturn audience expectations on a dime and to plummet very quickly into surprisingly dark places. It's a gorgeously shot film, with some of the outdoor scenes shared by Malerie and Elvis holding a sun-soaked youthful beauty that recalls Badlands. Like Malick, the filmmakers are digging at the malevolence behind the beauty, a malevolence that they unleash later on with a disturbingly calm fury.This is not to say that The King doesn't occasionally take things too far. The stabs at black humor are mostly mistimed and the film almost blows it completely by laying on the Biblical overtones with a trowel. It's not a story easily shaken, however, or easily pigeonholed, inhabiting instead a bright and evil category all its own.King and queen.


The King

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th May 2006

Distributed by: ThinkFilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 34

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Edward R. Pressman, , ,

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.