The King (15)

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The Independent Culture

On this occasion, we follow the son's odyssey, not the father's, beginning with a young Navy seaman named Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal, inset) driving to Texas to meet the dad he's never known. His father, played magnificently by William Hurt, is now an evangelical preacher who is married with two teenaged children, and he wants nothing to do with the illegitimate product of the days before he was "saved".

As soon as we see Elvis's rifle and the preacher's hunting bow, it's a question of who's going to use which weapon against whom and when. But none of the characters behaves quite how we'd predict, and Elvis himself is so polite and wide-eyed that we can never be sure if he's a madman, a malevolent schemer, or a mixed-up boy who just wants a family. It's a classy feature debut from James Marsh, a British documentary maker, even if a drifting second half dissipates most of the unease which has accumulated so steadily in the first.