Thursday, December 24, 2009
Director Clint Eastwood gets overly sentimental with this new film based on Nelson Mandela and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The story is inspiring enough but Mr. Eastwood manipulates the script, the music, and the cinematography to drive the emotion and inspiration over the top.
The story of how Mr. Mandela uses rugby to help unite his country is very inspirational. It's a tricky move to get an American audience involved in a film about South Africa and rugby. While the game sequences are exciting, not knowing enough about the sport hindered my emotional involvement and Mr. Eastwood's musical choices are very manipulative. When the 99% white team does a rugby clinic with a group of South African black kids, do we really need to hear a song called "Colorblind" during the scene.
Morgan Freeman is outstanding as Nelson Mandela. It's always tricky to recreate a true story with bigger than life true characters but Mr. Freeman honors Mr. Mandela with a very natural performance. The other big name in this film is Matt Damon as the captain of the South African rugby team. Unfortunately Mr. Damon's role is reduced to some inspirational team speeches and few shots of him actually involved in the rugby matches.
Mr. Eastwood is an accomplished director, who finds the human story behind the politics and sports but "Invictus" is far from his best film.