15 January 2007 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: The King
No, this movie is not a sequel to The Queen, and it's peculiar to have both The King and The Queen making their screenings at our theatres at the same time. If given a choice to make, I would recommend The King instead.
This movie reminded me of Woody Allen's Matchpoint. Different stories altogether, but with the general sense and feeling of incredible luck, and evilness amongst man. You can't help but wonder that each one of us have the propensity to do evil, and just what might exactly push our button to commit sin. Lust, revenge, and pride clearly on display in James Marsh's The King.
There are various Kings here, the first which is most obvious, the main protagonist's name Elvis Valderez, played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Recently discharged from the Navy, he's on a trip to Texas to look up the father he never knew, who turned out to be a pastor, clearly already having moved on from his mother. The other notable King here, is pertaining to religion, given that Jesus Christ is acknowledged by Christians to be the King of Kings. I thought William Hurt put up a credible performance as the strict Pastor David Sandow, who now serves a little community, with possibly a happy family befitting a good Christian family.
And perchance it is the ghost from the past, his illegitimate son Elvis, who's now the devil in his midst of them, slowly bringing down the facade and hypocrisy surrounding the Sandows, and exposing them for who they truly are. It's quite a dark movie, and made possible so as the devil has an innocent, possibly angelic face (thanks to Gael), and little do you know the kind of evil that lurks around. Which probably makes it all the more dangerous as the saying goes, you know the person, but not what is in his heart - the motives, if ulterior.
Having to say more will most likely spoil the entire movie. I liked the pacing that the story took, on having it all laid out methodically. At times, you question Elvis' intent, if he's truly aware of the repercussions of what he's doing. You might want to argue that love knows no bounds, but there certainly are some clear markers and blinkers to warn you to stay away, at all costs.
The great acting makes The King extremely watchable. William Hurt, as already mentioned, plays his pained pastor with plenty of skeletons in his closet, to a T. Pell James as his daughter Malerie, brings about a fresh faced ingénue to her role, with innocence written all over. For fans of Little Miss Sunshine, Paul Dano has more lines of dialogue here, and even exercises his vocal cords in singing two songs. His role as son Paul is contrasted against Elvis the illegitimate son - one devoted to God, the other the devil himself, one living his life with a cause, the other living his without any aim, except probably to groove along waiting for acceptance.
There are many releases this week (last count was nine), but The King ranks up there amongst the much watch.