Race-riots! Sex dreams! Oh no!
Millie (Halle Berry) lives in L.A. with a bunch of homeless kids that she looks after and is just trying to do what she can to get by. But with this being April ’92, everything is about to get a lot crazier, starting with much more violence on the street. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s got to worry about her kids, whether or not they’re going to come home in one piece, or be arrested and thrown into the slammer, never to be heard from again. But most of all, Millie worries about her next-door neighbor, Obie (Daniel Craig), a drunken, rather angry man who may or may not be the love of her life. Only time will tell, but time may be the only thing that neither of them have left.
Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s first film, Mustang, was pretty great. It was a smart coming-of-ager that dealt with sex, race, gender, and family in a smart, honest way that also felt like it was trying to say something about growing up in a world that you don’t yet understand, but really want to. It’s probably what gave Ergüven the chance to make Kings, her latest that seems like it has the right slick look and quick feel, but is nowhere nearly as smart, as well-written, or even, well, interesting.
Which is odd because not much really happens in Kings. Sure, there’s some death, some violence, some sex, and some rioting in the streets, but that’s really about it; the movie never really does much, nor does it really have much to say. Ergüven seems to think that shooting everything in a lightning-fast manner will help allow for Kings to get past the fact that it truly doesn’t have much of a story, or even an idea of where it wants to go.
And for a movie that’s tackling race-relations, that’s a problem.
It’s a problem because these are the kinds of movies that should have something on its mind, something to say, and not just something to do. Sure, there’s a lot that happens during the so-called “riot” we see, but just showing the audience a bunch of crazy and wild stuff happening, without giving much context on it, doesn’t work. It just feels empty and with a movie like Kings, you never know if there’s something more to it all that we’re just missing out on, or if there’s just something missing in general.
Either way, the movie comes close to being bearable because it’s short and somewhat entertaining. But even when it’s over, it’s hard not to imagine what it was even about? It’s nice to see Halle Berry get a solid role for once and it’s always nice to see Daniel Craig pop-up, even if he doesn’t know what accent to use here, but even they can’t help Kings out in the long-run. They’re just doing whatever they can to get by, see what works, see what doesn’t, and hopefully come out of it all unscathed.
For Craig? Yes. For Berry? Unfortunately, I don’t know. Guess we’ll see what Hollywood brings her next.
Consensus: As energetic as it may be, Kings never makes full sense of itself and feels like a derivative, somewhat dull attempt at being a “message-movie”, without any real message attached.
4.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: The Orchard