The King

Dir: James Marsh, 2005. Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Pell James, William Hurt. Drama/Thriller.
The King

Every so often there comes a film that makes one question the motives of the individuals responsible for the picture that’s painted through the moving frames you see on the screen. Sometimes, not only do the motives come into question but perhaps the morality as well. It’s a very rare thing for an artist, director, writer, musician, etc. to push one to the brink of trust. The co-writer and director of the film The King, James Marsh, is one of those artists. An artist that paints a picture so bleak and disturbing that it becomes nearly impossible for one not to claim irresponsibility on the part of said artist. My description of the film might be a bit dramatic when in fact the film itself might be a bit melodramatic, but either way, this film will get you at your core and it will stay with you long after you view it.

The King tells the story of an afflicted young man by the name of Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal) who, after just recently being discharged from the US Navy, goes on a journey to connect with David (William Hurt), the father he’s never known. After the first confrontation, David makes it clear to Elvis that he is not welcome. Suddenly, David is conflicted as he is faced with the moral responsibility of telling his family. What’s so conflicting is the fact that David is a minister at the local mega-church, as well as a respected member of the community, and he had no idea that he had a son other than the one who he calls “son.” Despite David’s warning to Elvis, Elvis forces his way into David’s life without him realizing it. Elvis’ presence in the family circle proves to be disatrous for all involved. From its mesmerizing opening to its violent and dreary climax, The King provides the audience with a look into the lives of those who are driven by faith, passion, and hatred, yet makes no judgment on those lives and allows for the audience to judge for themselves.

Pell James, Paul Dano, and Laura Harring star as David’s family. William Hurt’s performance is absolutely gripping as the father who struggles to keep his family together in the face of tragedy and heartbreak. Gael Garcia Bernal is wonderful as the disturbed and even disaffected young man who is struggling to find his true identity. Pell James is the beautiful young daughter caught in the middle of the turmoil brought on by Elvis. And Dano is the ambitious and driven elder child who makes a devastating discovery that changes everyone’s life forever.

A very austere yet enchanting Corpus Christi, Texas provides the backdrop for this very haunting southern tale. Cinematographer Eigil Bryld’s fluid camera work and framing brings to life the shocking story written by Marsh and Milo Addica. The methodical and taut direction from Marsh completes a film that will make you, just like me, question the sanity and one’s ability to trust those involved in bringing this type of subject matter to light.

Posted by:
Travis King
Nov 11, 2009 5:22pm
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