Monday, 25 April 2011

Film Review: INVICTUS (2009)

Invictus_poster Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 128 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Drama/Sports
UK Release date: 5th February 2010

Watched on DVD Monday 25th April 2011.


I guess I should state at the start that I am a huge fan of Rugby Union, the game featured in this film. A little sceptical when I first put the disc in the DVD player because I’m not a fan of South Africa, I’m English, but my worst fears were soon put aside. The film focuses on Nelson Mandela’s efforts to unite his country, and how he used rugby as part of this process. Based on true events, much of the story is about a country divided along lines if race that is now emerging into a new era. To help ease this process, and to get many of the whites on his side, Nelson Mandela inspires the captain of the Springboks, the South African rugby team, Fran├žois Pienaar, and encourages him in his quest to win the World Cup, which is being hosted there.

invictus-trailer-450x259 Technically, this is a very well made film, although, as is usual with sports in films, the close-up action shots do appear to be staged (which, of course, they are). This failing aside, it’s a very well written script and there are some very nice performances. There is a nice little sub-plot involving Mandela’s security people, who are all black at the beginning, but when they ask for more men, Mandela sends some white security people round. After a little uncertainty at first, we see them gradually earn each other’s trust as the film progresses. A neat little device that illustrates the points being made in the main part of the movie.

invictus-teamx-topper-medium Unusually for a film of this type, the two main characters, who are both very inspirational men, seldom meet. When they do, you can feel the strength of Mandela giving encouragement to Pienaar. This comes across very well and even I was rooting for the Springboks by the end of the film (and I already knew who won!). I remember well watching the final, where Mandela pulled off a great stroke by wearing a Springboks shirt. This had been a symbol of power to the whites and a symbol of oppression to the blacks in South Africa. This one simple act did much to unite the nation and greatly inspire the team.

invictus-4 Two great performances; Morgan Freeman really nailed the voice and the mannerisms of Nelson Mandela, of course, he doesn’t really look much like him, but I guess you can’t have everything. Matt Damon did a great job as Fran├žois Pienaar, inspirational speeches and a lot of physical work also, but, again, he doesn’t really look like the man he’s portraying. I can forgive that as they both did a really good job.

2009invictus Over all I found this a very inspirational film with some great moments. It features two very good performances, but I did find it a little too long and the close-up action looked a little too staged. Having said that, I would watch it again sometime and I’m sure I would find more things to like about it. I do like the very measured style Clint Eastwood uses in the films he directs, nothing is too overstated and I have to admire him for that. Recommended.

My Score: 7.5/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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