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The King (Unrated)

Release Date: May 19th, 2006 by THINKfilm.
The Cast: Gael García Bernal, William Hurt, Pell James, Paul Dano, Laura Harring. Directed by James Marsh.

BASIC PREMISE: Elvis (Bernal) returns from the Navy and reunites his long-lost father (Hurt).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Gael García Bernal gives a terrific performance as Elvis, a young Mexican-American man who travels to Corpus Christi, Texas to find his real father, David, who turns out to be a minister with a wife and two teenage kids, Paul (Dano) and Malerie (James). William Hurt also gives a strong performance as David. When David immediately rejects Elvis as a part of his life, Elvis refuses to take “no” for an answer and, soon enough, befriends Paul and Malerie. Predictably, he woos Malerie into falling in love with him. Gradually, Elvis gets into more and more trouble, especially after an early act of violence which already suggests Elvis’ mental instability. The plot is well structured with plenty of visual allegories as if it were a Shakespearean tragedy with escalating sinful acts. Elvis and his Baptist father certainly have a conflict with one another which fuels much of the suspense during the second act. Unfortunately, director/co-writer James Marsh fails to coherently show the real motivations that drive Elvis’ actions and fails to make him into a believable character. Likewise, David has too little character development. Therefore, the chaotic, yet surprising third act doesn’t feel as haunting as it could have been.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The events during the third act do make you think somewhat about whether or not Elvis can actually be “saved”—or forgiven—from his sinful acts, but without enough character development, it’s difficult to come to any solid conclusions. Some of the symbolic visuals, such as a black cat and red roses, are interesting as well as the title of the film itself which refers to the main character who shares his name with the King of Rock ‘N Roll and which also refers to Jesus “the King”. It’s no coincidence that David, the minister, happens to enjoy Rock ‘N Roll.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Weak character development leads to a weak third act.


IN A NUTSHELL: Bernal and Hurt give strong performances! An engaging, suspenseful plot filled with interesting allegories, but low on character development and insight.


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