Saturday, July 24, 2010

Invictus. B

Hmmm, I'm still not quite sure what I thought of Invictus. I'm not sure if Eastwood's no-nonsense, straightforward approach was the right choice, or if he should have gone deeper into his exploration of the film's center, Nelson Mandela. I'm not sure if he chose the right story to tell, or if he should have focused more on Mandela's stint in prison and election. One thing I do know is that the movie did not increase my appreciation of rugby. It actually made me like the game less. Rugby is a vicious, confusing, and dangerous battle. The game is sloppy, and, unlike American football, has no rhythm at all. It puzzles me why anyone would really want to play this game, much less watch it. The whole point of the movie is that South Africa needs to win the Rugby World Cup to unite the country. But since I don't like the sport I sort of distanced myself from the movie. And one of the central problems with Eastwood's film is that it spends far too much time on the final rugby match, a.k.a "the big game". Those who like rugby probably enjoyed this intense, detailed sequence, but for me it was pure misery (especially because the movie assumes the viewer already knows the rules of rugby). There are plenty of things to admire about the film, most notably Morgan Freeman's acting and Eastwood's precise attention to detail. Freeman, a good friend of the real Mandela, has been rumored to play him in a biopic for years now. Though the rugby was a distraction from Mandela's personal life, Freeman still offers a wonderful portrayal of a man trying to bring together the people who turned against him. As for the detail, Eastwood gives us a number of great moments outside of the central plot. That scene near the beginning in which Mandela's bodyguard suspect a newspaper van might be an assassination attempt was nicely done. And I also admired the focus given on Mandela's security team. Eastwood's regular DP, Tom Stern, does a nice job with the locations, while the music is generally fun and inspiring. For the story he was telling, I guess Eastwood did a good job. But it's not nearly as good as anything he's done in the last ten years. One has to applaud him for tackling such an important political story at the age of 80, and though it doesn't meet his usual standards, Invictus does meet the requirements for a feel good sports drama.

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