2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
When it comes to your life three things can be counted on, what you fear will appear, what you resist will persist, and what you disown will come home. Rarely are those principles better illustrated to dramatic effect than in The King.
William Hurt plays the part of the respectable preacher, and Gael Garcia Bernal, the illegitimate former soldier son, seeking acknowledgment and love. When the preacher disowns this son by a relationship with a prostitute years before, the son then remorselessly sabotages him leaving a trail of destruction and criminal behavior which goes undetected.
The preacher has the preferred legitimate son, echoes of Cain and Abel, the naive beautiful virgin teenage daughter whom he wishes to seduce, and the attractive wife. All these things come under threat in this relentless pursuit, as this movie unfolds with gripping, surprising and extreme turns. If the legitimate son is out of the picture will the father accept him? Will he be stopped before it's too late, or will he destroy everything that matters to to the preacher?
It's also reminiscent of the Frankenstein story, where the doctor refuses to acknowledge his creation, and the monster destroys all that is light in his life. Undoubtedly, a powerful movie, some may find it scary, and you may wonder at the end what would have happened if the son had been accepted from the beginning.
I liked this movie when I saw it in theatre, and just because it was not a big Hollywood extravaganza does not mean that it's not a very worthwhile movie.
I think you will enjoy this gripping movie, which i highly recommend, and I hope you found this review helpful
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Just saw this one and found it a bit intriguing. The plot is basic, in that Elvis (ah huh) played by Gael Garcia Bernal, is discharged from the Navy, with all his possessions in a duffel bag and oddly, his service rifle. That wouldn't happen in Blighty you know.
He gets all his back pay and goes straight to a whore house. So far so good and then he turns up at some Evangelist Church, after buying a ropey 69 Cougar. This is where the story starts to get uncomfortable, and without spoiling the plot, it turns out the Pastor is his father whom he has never met.
The Pastor has a family and has clearly moved on since `being saved'. The Pastor David (William Hurt), orders him to stay away from him and his family fearing the past has finally caught him up. Elvis wont take no for an answer and starts a relationship with Malerie (David's lonely daughter).
That is where things start to happen or go wrong and I must say I did not expect anything that unfolded. The music that runs through out the film is great but stands as juxtaposition for the actual events taking place on screen. A bit like The Smiths `Girlfriend in a coma', with it's up beat melody and depressing lyrics. Everyone involved turns in a believable and often compelling performance and there is some stunning cinematography, which is to be commended on an indie flick.
At a run time of 99 mins this did not feel like a long film. That said it is not a great film, but like most indie cinema it never purported to be. Made in association with Film 4 I found this a rewarding watch, but the subject matter will not be to everybody's taste, with its `moderate sex and adult themes', as it says on the cover, but worth the punt.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2008
There are a lot a themes crammed into this movie, and this is one of its flaws. The King sets out to explore revenge; lies; deceit; fratricide; incest; creationism; blind, intolerant faith; and redemption. But because it attempts to cover so much it manages to only touch on each of them, which produces a movie without sufficient focus.
Also lacking is any real insight into why Elvis does what he does. How much does he actually know about his past? We're never made privy to his motives accept on a simplistic level. In order to become involved with his character we require a deeper awareness of his inner workings, but this is never supplied.
William Hurt in particular gives a nicely controlled and understated performance. The direction is measured and doesn't intrude on the narrative, as you might expect from a director whose background is in documentaries. And the script is thoughtful and intelligent despite its efforts to overachieve. Ultimately, however, the film is too cold and unfocussed to be as effective as it should be.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2010
Written by Milo Addica the author of 'Monsters Ball' and 'Birth', the film follows the character of Elvis Valderez, a seemingly polite and charming young man who after his discharge from the U.S navy sets out to meet his real father, a now born again Christian pastor. After a brief rejection, Elvis is welcomed into his new family, but it soon becomes apparent that Elvis is a highly dangerous and damaged individual.
As you would expect from Milo Addica, the story is well written, the characters have plenty of depth and as the story unfolds it reveals unexpected and unpleasant twists. If you like independent films then this is well worth buying.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2006
A young sailor, named Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal), takes leave from the Navy and attempts to meet with his estranged Father (William Hurt's David Sandow), now a local town Pastor. On first appearances the clean cut and polite young man appears to be a fine, respectable American citizen. However when this initial meeting is halted somewhat abruptly, it gradually becomes clear that things aren't at all what they seem. And so begins `The King', which on the surface at least, is a typical Middle American drama centered around a Bible-Belt dwelling family. What it becomes further along is an engaging and at times thought provoking case study of innocence lost and regained, dealing with sin, vengeance, love and ultimately forgiveness.
Living in the pastel shaded Corpus Christi (Body of Christ to you or me) the Sandow's inhabit the general sanctity of a `Christian Values' town. The father a town Pastor, the good and dutiful wife (Mullholland Drive's Laura Harring), the prodigal son and doting daughter are, from the outside looking in, a picture perfect masquerade belying the secrets and lies of forgotten and hidden pasts. Upon the arrival of the unstable Elvis this veil soon begins to slip. He quickly embarks on a love affair with his 16 year old half-sister, that they both know is wrong but do it anyway. He out of a need for companionship and she as a means of defiance against her father's strict principles, both are convinced that it is love.
Nothing is known of Elvis' back story, why or how he served in the Navy. What he did before this or where he wants to go. We are told that his mother is apparently dead and that he appears to have no other family. His simplistic and crucially regimented outlook on life comes to the fore when presented with a threat or challenge. Clearly lacking an understanding of right and wrong Elvis seems eager to adopt the church as a means to excuse his behavior and thus erase his guilt.
The ensemble cast all put in smart, nuanced performances and Bernal is a fantastic presence, his cutesy pie eyes hiding a much darker core at once sensitive and flirtatious but also verging on something much more dangerous. Pell James (last seen in Jim Jarmusch's `Broken Flowers') is superb, shouldering much of the emotional weight as Malarie, Elvis's half sister and the (perhaps not totally) unwitting catalyst to some unexpectedly violent outbursts. The transition from naive young daddy's girl to dead eyed doll is painstakingly human, her scenes with Bernal are handled with a sensitivity that suggests the sensations are shared yet are never condoned. The under-rated William Hurt puts in yet another strong turn as a `saved' Pastor struggling to maintain control of his congregation, belief and family as his buried sins re-surface. In one key scene his un-wavering faith in a higher order to all things, prompts his wife Twyla to walk headlong in to oncoming traffic, rambling; "Nothing means anything anymore".
British Co-writer/Director James Marsh's `The King' is a difficult proposition to discuss openly without giving away too much of what's going on. That said many cinema-goers who happen to chance upon this indie picture will leave the auditorium by turns, frustrated and - as the makers no doubt intended - shocked and disturbed. Whether or not you enjoy `The King's slow-burning psychological melodrama will depend on your personal moral standing and beliefs (You get the feeling that that's half the point).
Though at times bleakly comical, rather than adopting a satirical approach to its subject matter, The King is a superbly acted treatise on the apparent weaknesses of absolute belief in faith, redemption and an all forgiving higher power.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2007
I was happy to come across this film due to Bernal and after viewing this it certainly left me unsettled. This story revolves around a very unsavory topic with very unlikable (albeit well played) characters. The director has chosen to deal with the films events in a very blunt manner and it as result does not make it a very enjoyable viewing. To no surprise, Gael Garcia Bernal, Pell James, Paul Dano and Laura Harring are all convincing in their respective roles, as well. For some reason though, this film reminded me of Gus van Sant's "Elephant": the absurdity of Reality (cinéma réalité).
In here we found the main character is discharged from the Navy, Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal) who travels to Corpus Christi, buys a '69 Cougar and visits a church. He flirts with sixteen-year-old Malerie (Pell James), daughter of the minister, David (William Hurt). The minister learns that Elvis is his son, rejects him and Elvis goes on to secretly pursue a heated sexual relationship with the girl who becomes pregnant. After this, the story inexplicably takes a much darker turn. Surprisingly, the treatment of religious fundamentalism is not heavy handed. But once revealed, Bernal's character is confusing, reprehensible and difficult to explain. Elvis takes responsibility for his actions and is clearly a sensitive, caring person, but an understanding of his horrific behavior is never remotely attempted. His schizophrenic turns are as thoughtless and empty as the rest of this valueless and we are never given an ample history about Elvis' background and perhaps the filmmakers wanted us to fear him for that reason.
What's also confusing is the musical score, to me it somehow sounds displaced through out the film but perhaps I am wrong or I'm just being a little too picky. I think the movie could have gone just a little more at the end, gone a little darker perhaps, and accentuated the final effect that much more. While it works at the same time because of its constraint... my guess is that if it were redone it would dwell on longer and more closely scrutinize Hurt's face, even just freeze for some time there.
Anyway, "The King" does make an impression on the viewers because it certainly did with me. This film is a must-see if (and I'm stressing that word IF) you are a Hurt and Bernal fan.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2007
This film engages the viewer. It does not tell you the answer to everything contained within it - you have to go away and think about different elements and make sense of it for yourself. You might enjoy it, or find it annoying. That said, its also an enjoyable film to watch. An interesting plot - juxtaposition of two sets of very different lives and experiences colliding with each other, with dire consequences for one of them. What you read in to that is up to you.
The film also has interesting elements of intimacy and dreaminess, achieved at least in part by the photography.
I saw this film over a year ago - and still think about it.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2007
Do not be deceived by the title of this film, there is nothing here to do with either Elvis Presley or Jesus Christ, except in a most peripheral way. This film is a slow burning drama of the kind you see all too rarely these days.
The King of the title is Elvis Valderez, played with a quiet menace by the wonderful Gael Garcia Bernal, a young man who has recently been discharged from the Navy who heads for the town of Corpus Christi, Texas in search of the father that he has never met. Unfortunately, his father David is a pastor and preaches at the local church, and does not want to be reminded about his wayward youth, and so wants nothing to do with Elvis. But Elvis is not the kind of man to take no for an answer, and sets about worming his way into the family, first via a relationship with his half sister Malerie, who has no idea that this charming stranger is in fact her half brother, and then via other, more disturbing methods.
That all is not as perfect with this family as it first appears soon becomes evident in a series of nicely judged scenes. That David dotes on his legitimate son Paul is quickly made evident, and that his daughter Malerie is somewhat sheltered and looking for a way to get her fathers attention is also made apparent in a series of exchanges both with Elvis, in the family home and at the church. And it is these very factors that Elvis, the cuckoo in the nest of this god fearing family, uses to inveigle his way into the affections of this family, with tragic consequences.
Bernal turns in his usual great performance as Elvis, an obviously troubled man whose motives for doing what he does are left tantalizingly vague (although some people will find this very vagueness frustrating), allowing us to come to our own conclusions about his motives, and whether his actions are premeditated or spur of the moment things. As his father David, William Hurt gives us a quiet and dignified portrayal of a man struggling to come to terms with his past and face up to his future, whilst at the same time wanting his son, and any son will do, to be just like him. Pell James gives Malerie a level of naivety and vulnerability that is just the right side of credibility, and plays the role with more than a little touch of Sissy Spacek. Indeed, the film has other similarities to that seminal work that Spacek starred in, Badlands, both in its portrayal of Elvis, who certainly invites comparisons to Martin Sheens Kit with his air of seductive danger, and in a certain visual similarities, and that can only be a good thing.
Directed by James Marsh and written by Milo Addica, who also wrote the superb Monsters Ball this is an involving and at times deeply surprising movie that manages to be both touching and menacing at the same time. But whether it is a biblical analogy or simply a very good drama, that is up to you to find out for yourself.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2009
This is a truly amazing piece of film making, constantly engaging and surprising in equal measure, (the end blew me away).
The excellent cast, from G.G.BernalAmores Perros and Paul DanoThere Will Be Blood (Single Disc Edition)  to W. HurtA History of Violence , L.E. HarringMulholland Drive  (REGION 1) (NTSC), and Pell James (who surely has great career potential) transform what could have been merely a good drama into something truly sublime.
If you enjoyed any of the actors in the above film links you need to see this film. If you enjoy this film check out those.
The aspect ratio and extras content is identical (2.35:1 anamorphic) on the region 1 and 2, although the region 2 has DTS5.1.
Strangely, the Tartan 'rental copy' has only DD5.1 (no extras) but the aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic, opening up more at the bottom of the frame and retaining all information from the 2.35:1 framing.
on 14 January 2015
A great film showing how religious bigotry can ruin one's own life