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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.