Contemporary documentaries that focus on individuals rather than big political or social issues tend to be either heavy-handed smear jobs (even if you agree with their basic politics or stance) or hagiographic puff pieces passed off as reportage. The latter is the case with Dejan Acimovic's The King, whose subject is 40-year-old Croatian Paralympian Darko Kralj, a record-setting Olympic gold medalist. In this instance, though, the softball approach works. Wounded during Croatia's 1991 war, Kralj lost one of his legs and then still proceeded to become a world-class athlete. A big bear of a man with a quiet demeanor but multiple layers (he loves to hunt, and his musing on the sport makes it seem a spiritual practice for him), Kralj quietly but powerfully holds center frame as the film tracks his family life sweet romps with his mini-me sons, making homemade sausage with his wife and parents), workouts with his coach, fishing with friends, stoically going through the tedious process of being fitted for a new artificial leg, and so on. Beautifully shot, the film is unapologetically a crowd-pleaser whose gentleness of tone flows from its subject.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
More Film News
- Teen Sex Comedy ‘Staten Island Summer’ Works Best If You’re Hard Up
- If the Devil Were Real, He’d Demand Better Horror Flicks Than ‘The Vatican Tapes’
- Doc 'A Gay Girl in Damascus' Finds Resonant Truth in an Online Fiction
- Slack Mystery ‘Frank the Bastard’ Proves You Can Go Home Again (But It Won’t Be...