Sunday, December 27, 2009

Invictus - A review

Australians can typically be divided down party lines. Rugby or Aussie Rules. I am an Aussie Rules girl – go Blues! - which means that the Rugby World Cup has never even blipped on my radar. So the whole story surrounding the 1995 World Cup which is chronicled in the film Invictus, yea. I didn’t really follow that. To be honest, I had no clue that one silly game of rugby was capable of uniting a whole country that was on the brink of extreme civil unrest. Or do you think maybe the film exaggerated just a little? In Hollyweird? Never. Pfft.

Invictus tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. --© Warner Bros.

In spite of the accents – shudder - I have this thing about Afrikaans accents. I pretty much cringe every time I hear an Afrikaans accent, it is not a racism thing. Blame that guy in Lethal Weapon 2.. “Diplomatic Immunity…..” Okay, in spite of that, I really enjoyed this film. And the fact that I enjoyed a movie that is about sports definitely says something. Sport movies typically don’t really do it for me.

Director Clint Eastwood was able to elicit outstanding performances from his cast. It pretty much revolved around Freeman and Damon and as always they both delivered. Morgan Freeman was quietly dignified in his portrayal of Nelson Mandela. His performance rings true and never feels forced. Damon delivered yet another solid performance and mastered the difficult accent so well that he seemed like a local. I enjoy Matt Damon more and more in each film I see him in. He is showing that he can do so much more than the Bourne movies. Not that I am not a fan of the Bourne Movies. I can’t wait for the rumoured 4th film in the franchise.

More interesting than the sports…cause …. Sports = yawn…..I found Eastwood’s demonstration of Mandela’s leadership of his fledgling administration fascinating. I had never really given much thought to how difficult the transition for both Mandela and his staff would have been. I especially liked how Eastwood used the security team to demonstrate the initial animosity and gradual thawing of the tension between the “pre” and “post” Mandela staff.

Invictus was a heart-felt and uplifting movie and was full of many many cliches. The rugby team sucks. But after a few inspirational speeches and some jogging as a team along the streets of South Africa, the players that everyone was convinced had no chance in heck…. Oh I don’t want to spoil it for you. And this is why I don’t enjoy Sports movies. Because nice guys rarely finish last.

Don’t get me wrong, the film had me on the verge of tears quite a few times. But I have a ton of real life crap going on, so at this stage in the game, pretty much anything will make me shed a few tears at the moment.

Some parts were cloying in their sweetness. Such as the team running through the streets together…. And the little black boy listening to the game alongside the gruff white men, edging closer and closer to their car’s radio…. I won’t say what happens by the end of the game. I will let you draw your own conclusions.

I did enjoy this movie. A lot. Worth seeing? Definitely. But, compared to some of the other films floating around at the moment, it is kind of getting lost in the shuffle for me. So many great movies, a good movie gets forgotten pretty quickly. I think this is what will happen with Invictus when this seasons Awards hardware is handed out.


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