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The King (2006)



Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 78
Fresh: 44 | Rotten: 34

This disturbing film about the past coming back demanding its due evokes classical tragedy, but is ultimately too heavy-handed.


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 15

This disturbing film about the past coming back demanding its due evokes classical tragedy, but is ultimately too heavy-handed.



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Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 39,778

My Rating

Movie Info

A young man exacts a thorough revenge against the father who abandoned him in this independent drama. Elvis (Gael García Bernal) is a young man in his early twenties who, after finishing a hitch in the Navy, learns that his biological father was Pastor David Sandow (William Hurt), a man of the cloth who has never taken responsibility for siring a child out of wedlock. Elvis travels to Corpus Christi, TX, to confront Sandow about his past; the pastor asks Elvis to let him break the news to his


Drama, Animation, Kids & Family

James Marsh, Milo Addica

Oct 10, 2006

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All Critics (85) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (34) | DVD (8)

A showcase for big ideas that winds up feeling empty.

July 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The King suffers from an overbearing sense of its own self-importance.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It really is reprehensible and disgusting, not only because we've seen far too many sociopaths in movies over the past 20 years, but because it deals with horrid clichés and presents them as something indie-hip and morally provocative.

June 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Chilling and compelling.

June 23, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is an intelligent, disturbing thriller.

June 22, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A deeply involving film where intentions are as cryptic as the title, and the reckoning of past sins opens fresh wounds.

June 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The degree to which this film is unsettling is testimony to the strength of the acting and direction.

June 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Red States' worst nightmare rules on screen.

May 3, 2007 Full Review Source: WBAI Web Radio
WBAI Web Radio

Good work that, with a little more effort, could have been so much better.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

This movie creeped me out big time.

January 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

An undemanding morality tale set in the Bible Belt.

December 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The filmmakers' stoicism finally proves insurmountable and indefatigable

October 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

I'm all in favor of warts-and-all depictions of Christians, but the closer you look, the more you realize that warts are all this film has to offer.

September 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

A Southwestern American pastoral of dormant menace, The King is a film of triple-dipped mood that turns on an act of shocking violence, but still seems to substitute willful indistinctness for insight.

September 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Now Playing Magazine

"The King" actually moves you, particularly because it has outstanding actors like William Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal giving haunting, complex performances.

September 6, 2006 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

This film wastes the talents of the entire cast.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Programmed by the fatalistic filmmakers toward a cruel outcome, but the actors make it convincing...

August 11, 2006
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Both Hurt and Bernal drift through their performances, leaving the audience as unfulfilled as an empty collection plate.

July 28, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The many possible ways to read the film might be more fruitful if Marsh's direction was more assured.

July 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Marsh has a knack for setting up twisted situations, and he nicely counterbalances the horror by filming everything in a straightforward, muted style.

July 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Oregonian

The real acting sparks are generated by Hurt, delivering an absolutely sincere performance as a reformed sinner basking in God's love.

July 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

While Elvis' briefly startled face isn't precisely legible, your reading is pretty much ordained.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: PopMatters

So wildly and absurdly melodramatic in every way, shape and form that many viewers will be unable to decide whether it is a flat-out masterpiece or the most lurid piece of junk that they have ever seen.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source:

Offers a fascinating consideration of religion and religiosity, sin and revenge, and the ultimate question for Christians: Can evil be forgiven?

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Audience Reviews for The King

Somehow against all odds The King is dark yet somehow fulfilling. Bernal is terrific in a role where he hides who he really is. His actions seem to come off with no malicious intent despite the obvious destruction they could cause. It makes for an extremely creepy and twisted protagonist. This isn't someone who lurks in the shadows or gives you the evil eye from a distance, no twiddling of mustaches either. The revenge aspect is handled brilliantly to the point where it doesn't feel like a revenge film. It starts off with very gritty hand held camera work but as the film progresses to a more suburban local the camera settles and bright greens make it look like a pleasant world. This is also the time that religious aspects enter the film. Hurt has created an eden and left his past sins behind him but Bernal is a snake. The final integration of the King into the family environment is heartbreaking on all accounts as the metaphorical wrecking ball is just off in the distance. It's excellent stuff and crafted with care and passion without ever being heavy handed or inaccessible.
September 24, 2008

Super Reviewer

Interesting, but the dialogue seems somewhat clunky in places to me. Perhaps that's due to the upbringing of the characters, but I'm not sure. The cinematography and music are beautiful, but I don't think I like the film. It's a good film, I just don't engage with it very well. Still, what a way to conduct revenge.
June 27, 2007

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "The King", Elvis(Gael Garcia Bernal) has just been released from the navy and is heading home. Home in this case is Corpus Christi, Texas where his illegitimate father, David Sandow(William Hurt), is now a very successful preacher, married with a family of his own. His son, Paul(Paul Dano), is about to graduate high school and has been accepted at Baylor University, but not before trying to persuade his high school to teach intelligent design. His daughter, Malerie(Pell James), is a couple of years younger than Paul. David refuses to have anything to do with Elvis and does not tell his family about him. This does not stop Elvis from actively pursuing Malerie...[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"The King" is a good movie which is reminiscient of the morally ambiguous movies that Francois Ozon and Michael Haneke have made. It is unclear what Elvis' motives are or what he hopes to gain but it is clear that he does throw a wrench into David's carefully cultivated life. David is not a hypocrite but somebody who truly believes in God.(He distances himself from Elvis because he views him just as the result of a past indiscretion. Whether or not there is anything racist in his attitude is another question.) He does follow a stereotypical conservative behavior pattern in driving an SVU and hunting with his son while his daughter cooks and cleans. But in this film, Texas is pictured as being much more secular than its stereotype. [/font]
June 12, 2006
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Some spoilers ahead. Constantly testing the limits of plausibility, The King largely succeeds due to the strength of the acting and subtle, low-key direction. Gael Garcia Bernal shows exceptionally little emotion - he is cold and vicious, although it's hard to know if he's being deliberately calculating, or if he's just unhinged, or (most probably) a combination. Pell James is especially brilliant in the most difficult to believe role. Her reaction when Elvis tells her about Paul is so convincingly played that it's almost possible to overlook how much it actually stretches credibility. The very difficult to watch sermon at the end of the film demonstrates Pell James' skill with body language and emotion as we see her gradually realise the full extent of the truth. William Hurt also puts in a typically layered performance. In truth, this film is so melodramatic in content that it would be impossible to take seriously were it not so understatedly played and filmed. A very interesting film. "We're going to hell."
June 6, 2009

Super Reviewer

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