The King

Director: James Marsh

Beauty has never been more menacing than in the form of twenty-one year old Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal), who as the film begins gets discharged from the navy and journeys to Texas in order to track down the biological father he’s never met. Putting on a terrific southern preacher voice, William Hurt is completely convincing in his role as the born again pastor, trying to forget his past indiscretions with his new family, wife Laura Harring and two teenage children (Pell Jones and Little Miss Sunshine’s excellent Paul Dano). When confronted in earnest with a request for a hug by Elvis, Hurt tells him frankly that he wants nothing to do with him and Elvis walks away even more determined to do whatever it takes to not only insinuate himself into his father’s life but get revenge both for his deceased mother and for being denied the type of father figure Hurt has since become with his white offspring. As Elvis opts to seduce the sixteen-year-old daughter, the film becomes far creepier, foreshadowing doom and destruction as the story shares elements inspired from both Shakespearean and Greek tragedy and Elvis’s actions become increasingly dangerous. In a key metaphorical scene, late into the film, Elvis plants flowers in the yard of the family’s home after having finally been temporarily accepted. However we quickly realize that it's a fleeting moment as we know as well as Elvis does that due to previous events, despite his wishes, he will never grow roots in that household as even for the film’s Christian characters there’s a line to how much one can forgive. The film’s ending will literally make you shudder as the son approaches his father in a chilling moment that ends a bit too abruptly. The King is an eerie film that definitely benefits from the earnest and angelic appearance of Bernal and one that never quite lets you forget that each and every character has distinct flaws and that although hypocrisy is everywhere, it takes a wronged young man to bring everything to light as the sins of his father are passed down to the son.