The King

Documentarian James Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip) makes his dramatic feature debut with this ambitiously sordid tale about a young man (Gael Garcia Bernal), born in the U.S. to a Mexican prostitute, who travels to Corpus Christi, Texas, in search of his father. Now a born-again Baptist preacher with a wife and two teenagers, the father (William Hurt) cautiously rebuffs the young man, who hires on at a pizzeria and starts a secret affair with the man’s teenage daughter (Pell James). Marsh and cowriter Milo Addica (Monster’s Ball) strive for gothic tragedy as they unbuckle the Bible Belt, but despite some credible performances (Hurt is especially interesting) the effort feels willful. R, 105 min. (JR)

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