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We're all shook up about ''The King'' on DVD

Ken Tucker explains why he likes the controversial movie

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We’re all shook up about ”The King” on DVD

One of the past year’s most divisive films — admirably so — is The King, the first drama from James Marsh, who made the remarkable documentaries Wisconsin Death Trip and The Burger & the King (about Elvis Presley’s food preferences). Presley and the King of Kings haunt The King (R, 103 mins., 2006), in which Gael García Bernal (above) stars as Elvis Valderez, a young man who abruptly appears at the door of a Southern family led by a Baptist pastor (William Hurt, in a serene, natural performance). This Elvis claims to be Hurt’s illegitimate son; with his open face and shining eyes, he seeks to connect with his father but also finds himself drawn to Hurt’s teenage daughter (Pell James). The King, written by Marsh and Milo Addica (he co-wrote Monster’s Ball), is open to the comic absurdity of this devilish Elvis and the disruption he causes. Hurt’s character, as a sincere Christian follower, struggles to find self-forgiveness and love for this boy. During its short theatrical release, I think people didn’t know how to handle the film’s roiling complexity; The King deserves a fully resurrected life on DVD.