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The King (DVD)


By Cole Smithey

James Marsh’s slow-burn meditation on the long term potentially violent effects of child abandonment, military discipline, religious obsession and attempted familial reconciliation is like a social abscess that the director barely pokes at before allowing the narrative to simmer to its inevitable climax of destruction. Gael Garcia Bernal gives a knockout performance as Elvis Sandow a 21-year-old man recently discharged from the Navy who returns to his childhood home in Corpus Christi, Texas to reconnect with his father David (William Hurt) who abandoned him and his mother more than 20 years ago.

Speaking with a perfect English accent Bernal embodies his troubled and opportunistic character with a seductive quality that lures the viewer into siding with his volatility before trapping you in his perilous clutches. Elvis approaches David, now the Baptist pastor of a local church, and identifies himself as the man’s bastard son. Caught off-guard, David tells Elvis to call him later so he can have time explain the situation to his picture-perfect suburban family. However, Elvis is more interested in seducing his 16-year-old alleged stepsister Malerie (Pell James) whom he neglects to tell of his relationship to her father. Elvis baneful intentions quickly escalate as he ingratiates his way into the home of the family he detests with a pitch-black passion. This unsettling and daring movie regards American narcissism with a cold eye.

Special features include a commentary track with James Marsh and co-screenwriter Milo Addica, deleted scenes, and a rehearsal reel. Aspect ratio is 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with sound quality processed in Dolby Digital 5.1, with Dolby 2.0 stereo track optional along with Spanish subtitles.

Rated R, 105 mins. (B)

October 15, 2006 in Drama | Permalink