The King is one of those subtly disquieting movies that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves because of a lesser known cast, or the fact it’s independent, or else…well, I’ve never understood why people ignore good films.
Released in 2005, The King was written and directed by James Marsh. Previous to this film, Marsh had directed a few films, but nothing of note. He currently has a documentary doing the art house theater tour called Man on Wire about the epic tight-rope walk of Philippe Petit’s between the World Trade Center towers.
This is the only writing credit to Marsh’s name according to imdb.com. If that information is, in fact, correct, it’s a shame we aren’t hearing more from him. The King is really a great drama.
The film follows Elvis (Gael García Bernal) as he’s released from the Navy after three years of service. With a dead mother, and no real family to speak of, he heads off to find his white father (you see, Elvis was the result of unprotected sex that was paid for). When he finds his father David (William Hurt), he’s quickly sent away by the now pastor. The pastor has a new family, two kids (played by Paul Dano, and Pell James), he’s found Jesus, and has a wide following as a non-denominational preacher. He doesn’t explain to his family who exactly Elvis is, but explains that they shouldn’t ever speak to him. Rebuked, Elvis starts dating his daughter Malerie, and all the trouble begins.
The direction of this film is terrific. Those with ADD might have trouble with the time Marsh takes to set up his story, but those who are willing to give The King the chance it deserves will be greatly rewarded at the end. Bernal leads the cast with this disturbing portrayal of such a confused young man. And the film serves as a reminder of how the past can come back to haunt you, even if you found religion.