Down with the King : Austin Film Festival Review

October 24, 202170/1005 min
Freddie Gibbs, Bob Tarasuk, Jamie Neumann, David Krumholtz
Written by
Xabi Molia and Diego Ongaro
Directed by
Diego Ongaro
Run Time. 1h 43min
Overall Score
Rating Summary

It is not an unusual thing to do when you get to a certain point in your career to want to reflect on if this is something you want to do with your life. That is where Mercury Maxwell aka Money Merc (Freddie Gibbs) is at in this moment as he retreats to a small farming town to write and record his new album. Mercury is pushing thirty and while Jay-Z once declared that “Thirty’s the new Twenty”, in the rap game that proves to be not something that is true very often. While he might not be getting any younger, Money Merc is up there to do one thing even as his manager Paul (David Krumholtz) and the record label are clamoring for a new album, Merc seems more interested in farming than laying down some bars.

Merc has done his best to fit in and has developed a friendship with Bob (Bob Tarasuk), a local farmer who lets Merc help him with his daily farming duties. It seems Merc has found a distraction in manual labor, which takes him far from the world where he has to be someone he might no longer be. Written by Xabi Molia and Diego Ongaro, the later also directing, Down with the King  is a story of someone questioning their freedom of being an individual at the same time, in search of fulfillment. The cast is small and while everything rotates around Merc, we do get to enjoy a few others who really add to the overall story. Tarasuk and Gibbs have almost perfect on-screen chemistry and watching them it is often hard to figure out which parts are scripted and which is just them being normal. Adding to the story also is Michaele (Jamie Neumann), a girl who Merc meets at the local hardware store who becomes something more to him. It seems the longer Merc is where he is, the more he becomes separated from who he was, and at this point, he just might be tired of the game.

Down with the King has a more European character study vibe to it and Gibbs really shines in this role. I mean sure he is playing a rapper, while actually being one in real life, but as the film’s center and least experienced actor, he delivers a really impressive performance. The movie captures moments of laughter and warmth and the self-reflection by Merc can also inspire someones own self-reflection. This is a movie where each of its parts complement the other and there is a humbleness that is felt throughout that just feels natural and honest. Down with the King ends up delivering a contemporary character study in just what it is like to be famous and in doing so might open some eyes to the pressures that can come from that.

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