There’s nothing better than an uplifting movie to please the masses that’s released just in time for the holidays. And if it involves sports, score! In fact, this year there are two to pick from, both focusing on a person who inspires others to achieve athletic greatness: The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock and Invictus starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. One is about football, the other about rugby; one is set in Texas, the other in South Africa. Yet both capitalize on large doses of sap and cheese to evoke warm fuzzy feelings inside.
Rugby fans – or perhaps all sports fans – already know the story of the South African Springboks who beat the odds to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. It was a stirring victory by the underdogs, which alone would be great story for a movie. But according to Clint Eastwood‘s latest directorial endeavor, it wasn’t just the team who won, but the country’s new president, Nelson Mandela, as well.
When Mandela assumed the presidency, to say that South Africa was divided across racial lines would be an understatement tantamount to saying the Golden Girls liked cheesecake. One of Mandela’s plans to get all South Africans on the same side was to give them a team worth cheering for – the Springboks. Tapped to carry Mandela’s water on the field was team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), who had to motivate his team, his family, and according to Anthony Peckham’s script, the entire nation.
Based on a book written by journalist John Carlin, the film focuses on three main story arcs: Mandela’s calculated risk to focus on rugby as way to unite the country; the team’s lack of faith in themselves that they could win; and Mandela’s newly integrated security team, who represent a microcosm of the country on a whole. If one were to dissect Invictus in a film class, the three parallel stories would follow the same predictable arc throughout.
To read the rest of Tim’s review, hop on over to Metro Weekly, where his article is currently running.