The King stars Gael García Bernal as a young man out of the military who goes on a quest to find the father he never knew. His father, played by William Hurt, turns out to be an evangelical right-winger who has no interest in accepting a bastard child into his happy life, but Bernal's disturbed character continues to push.
If you like Shakespearean tragedy, than The King is a movie you will enjoy. Things start out simple enough, with Bernal striking up a friendship with his father's daughter (hence his sister), played by Pell James. But when that friendship turns into a sexual relationship however, things start getting f**ked up. After all, here's a guy who knows that he's sleeping with his own sister but who doesn't have the balls (or the moral capacity) to give her the inside scoop on said information. I don't want to go into too many details to avoid ruining the rest of the story, but things spiral much farther out of control than just a dude screwing his (admittedly hot) sister.
I am a sucker for these kinds of movies. I love movies that take a while to get going, but then once they do they leave you with your mouth hanging open. After all, from reading the synopsis on the back of the box to the entire first act of the movie, I would have never guessed that The King was going to take a sharp turn into the dark side. The movie seems like just some serious family drama, and then it just goes haywire. I love movies like this. There are several moments that will leave you in shock.
The performances all around are quite good. James is a perfect choice for her role, and apparently she knew it because when she was hired for the part (playing a 17-year old girl), she didn't tell the director that she was actually thirty. Hurt is also exceptional as the hypocritical preacher. Evangelicals are always intriguing characters to me, because they preach such goodness but you know they have to be just like everyone else - and everyone has something to hide. He believes so strongly in his words and yet doesn't live by them.
Of course, the stand-out is once again Bernal, who is continuing to prove that he is one of the next best actors. Rising from the ranks of Mexican movies to mainstream American pieces, Bernal has shown that he has a knack for choosing quality films and has the skills to compliment such films.
The King is a great little film. It will never get the recognition it deserves, but its shocking, brutal and yet subdued story makes it one of the best movies of 2006.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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