King of California

Wood with Michael Douglas in King of California, 2007Image via WikipediaAt its heart, King of California is a father and daughter story. Along the way it is quirky, thoughtful and explores the relationship between accepting responsibility and following your heart.

Evan Rachel Wood stars as Miranda, a headstrong teenager who bears the burdens of responsibility at a very young age. Abandoned by her mother and having dropped out of school and the radar of social services, she has had her fair share of disappointments; none more so than perhaps by her father, Charlie, played brilliantly by Michael Douglas.

Evan Rachel is particularly known for her headstrong roles, having appeared in movies like Thirteen and The Upside of Anger. But here she plays an emancipated young teenager with the burdens of reality upon her. She is a sharp contrast to Douglas Charlie who is has a singular objective: To find a lost treasure in the suburbs of California. He is also a rehabilitated mental patient, though it’s pretty clear that his erratic behavior is alive and well. One would expect an actor like Douglas to completely eclipse Evan Rachel, but she holds her own in a very good performance.

Mike Cahill is a first-time director and screenwriter, and although there are some aspects of this movie depict a genius like quality, it is the later half of the film, particularly around the climax, that gives away his naïveté.

The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2007 but was originally written by Cahill sometime in 2004. Sundance is often referred to as a haven for films like this, giving the chance for directors like Cahill to showcase their work. It is also fast becoming a gold mine for actors who seek Oscar attention.

Though this film is a good watch, it isn’t great. This film is at best a good movie to rent, not to buy. — Khaver Siddiqi

(This review was originally published in the April 13th, 2008 Edition of Dawn Images)