Kings: An ode to silent heroes
by Carlota Moseguí
- TORONTO 2017: Deniz Gamze Ergüven follows Mustang with a fictional account of the civilians who lost their lives in the Rodney King riots, featuring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig
Twenty-five years after the beating of Rodney King, and the bloody riots that shook Los Angeles when the police officers who attacked him were exonerated, Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, now settled in France, has become the latest in a long list of filmmakers to latch onto this historic event. The result is a fictional account of one family that survived the ensuing spiral of violence.
According to the director of Mustang [+see also:
interview: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
film profile], The US has had two kings: Martin Luther King and Rodney King. Neither of these two public figures, however, is the direct focus of her second feature, which has just been unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival. Quite unequivocally, Kings [+see also:
film profile] does not aspire to be a biopic of Rodney King. The presence of the celebrated taxi driver, beaten by a posse of police officers because of the colour of his skin, can be felt in every conversation the film’s characters have, but we only see and hear him (in passing) through the television at the home of Millie (Halle Berry) or her neighbour Obie (Daniel Craig).
For her part, Ergüven had no desire to re-stage the lynching of Rodney King. Nevertheless, the film opens with a portrayal of another racially motivated crime that took place at that time: the murder of Latasha Harlins, a fifteen-year-old girl shot by a South Korean woman after attempting to steal an orange juice from her shop.
Kings presents a scrapbook of snippets, often romantic, from the lives of the members of this close-knit community both before and after the riots — from the secret passion between Halle Berry and Daniel Craig to an adolescent love triangle. To the rhythm of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the filmcomes to form a collage of the tragedy’s anonymous victims, allowing us to bear witness to the madness of that period in real time.
(Translated from Spanish)
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