The King (R)

Drama 106 May 19, 2006
By Bill Gallo
In his first fiction film, British director James Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip) goes slumming in the bland suburbs of Corpus Christi. There, he discovers a hypocritical cowboy preacher (William Hurt) and a drifty young punk named Elvis (Mexican star Gael García Bernal, spouting perfect American English), who shows up claiming to be the good reverend's illegitimate son. Marsh, who evidently sees America as a vaguely amusing backwater infested with dangerous grotesques, gets the atmospheric surfaces just right -- a sun-scorched Texas strip mall, the stunned rapture on the faces of a Sunday congregation -- but he and co-writer Milo Addica (Monster's Ball) make too easy a target of Christian fundamentalism, and they don’t give us enough, psychologically or emotionally, to get a fix on Elvis. As it is, this nihilist caricature seduces his clueless, teenage half-sister (Pell James), stabs his half-brother (Paul Dano), and otherwise plays the snake in the garden. Meanwhile, the film seems to take as much amoral pleasure in Elvis' misdeeds as he does.
James Marsh Gael Garcia Bernal, William Hurt, Pell James, Paul Dano, Laura Harring James Marsh, Milo Addica Milo Addica, James Wilson ThinkFilm

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