This is one of these stories of dedication and inspiration that ought to have made for compelling viewing. Sadly, though, it doesn't. Will Smith is the eponymous character, the father of the now legendary Serena and Venus Williams, and the narrative depicts his vision and determination to ensure that his daughters grasp every opportunity - willingly or less so - on their journey to undoubted tennis greatness. Sadly, though, I just found it all too focussed on an unremarkable performance from Smith. Though he does come across as a tightly focussed man, he also comes across and a rather unpleasant, thoughtless individual for whom, after a while, I began to feel a growing dislike. The somewhat arbitrary way in which he treats not just his family, but those around trying to help (and, admittedly, to capitalise on the impending gravy train) is all just bit too improbable. Had I been Rick Macci (John Bernthal) or Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn) I would have told him where to get off long before it became apparent that these two girls actually did have the ability to make it big. The acting efforts from the two young women are engaging, as is that from their mother Aunjanue Ellis but they are all too often subsumed in the domineering shadow of Smith. At 2¼ hours, it is also far too long. There are too many scenes that detract from the pace, offering us an increasingly annoying, meandering, lack of impetus and I could have done with far more input from the real "stars" of the movie to illustrate just how determined and accomplished they were (as opposed to their father). I know the film is about Richard Williams, but I found that whole emphasis just a bit skewed. There are far more interesting and nuanced characters in this story of these ladies that ought to have featured more prominently, rather than simply a chest-banging exercise for him!
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A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.
November 28, 2021