The film tells the inspirational true life story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's national rugby team Francois Pienaar to help unite their Native Country. Newly elected President Mandela knows all to well his Nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing there to be only one way to unite the people of his Country through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the Rugby World Cup final against the most dominating force in International rugby of that time the mighty All Blacks, New Zealand.
This is a wondrously well crafted film based on the novel "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation" by John Carlin and expertly reworked for the screen by screenwriter Anthony Peckham whose other screenwriting credits include "Sherlock Holmes" and "Don't say a Word" but it's in the direction of Clint Eastwood that brings this film to forefront of great films of this decade, once again Eastwood has chosen a subject matter that as an actor he wouldn't have been given the opportunity to work with and created one of his best films of his career. His career as a director is vast approaching eclipsing his historic career as an actor with this his 31st film as director and with Hoover and Hereafter which will reunite him with Matt Damon on the horizon there is another Oscar nomination or win in his not to distant future.
The central performance by Morgan Freeman is as great as you would imagine being that he was born to play this role and play the role he does. He portrays Mandela the man not Mandela the myth which is something I think most actors would fail to accomplish. His performance is filled with grace and gravitas befitting the great man he is portraying my only question is where does Mr. Freeman go from here? He's portrayed God, the President of the United States and now President Mandela what iconic figures are left for an actor of this stature to portray? I had heard of a rumoured Clint Eastwood pet project about the life of the Blues great BB King maybe this would be a great role for Freeman if he is willing to bulk up.
I was skeptical when I heard that Matt Damon had been cast as Francois Pienaar as I could barely remember him as a player and didn't really see a strong resemblance between them or think a non South African should play the role but humble pie I must eat as Damon owns the role completely. As an actor I actually do like Damon's work, The Bourne movies, Dogma, Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and in the Departed he puts in stellar performances I guess it's the whole Team America thing every time I hear his name I remember the way that puppet said it 'Mattt Daaamooon', and it makes me laugh, childish I know but it was really funny the first time I saw that movie.
I think special praise should go out to another actor who has been criminally overlooked by most reviewers of this film and that would be Tony Kgoroge who portrays Mandela's head of security Jason Tshabalala in the film. With very little dialogue for the length of screen time he has he created an incredibly well rounded character that really sticks in your mind. He also manages to do this while sharing the screen with Morgan Freeman who is putting in a career best performance which makes it all the more impressive.
Invictus was budgeted at $60,000,000 and grossed $124,479,778 worldwide and earned two Oscar nominations and is a great film even if you don't understand the rules of rugby or aren't a sports film fan in general there is so much depth to the film that there is something for everyone.
THE BOAT THAT ROCKED
The Boat That Rocked or Pirate Radio as it was distributed as by US distributor Universal is an ensemble British romantic comedy with a twist as the romance in the film is between the young British people of the 1960's and pop music. The film is very loosely based on Radio Caroline, a popular pirate radio ship with a similar history and style. Directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually) and starring an amazing cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton and a surprisingly short appearance by Emma Thompson the film is about a group of rogue DJ's that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined that era and standing up to a government that believed such music was almost pornographic.
With a script written by Richard Curtis who wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, the Bridget Jones movies and Love Actually I was slightly hesitant of this film at first. I'm not a big Rom-Com fan and found the movies mentioned above to be to sappy even for my taste but as he also wrote such classic British works as Blackadder, Not the Nine O'clock News and French and Saunders I was willing to give it a go.
The film has it's moments Hoffman, Frost and Nighy are on top form as always and the rest of the cast do their best with what they are given but I felt some of the other characters where underwritten and the plot dragged a little in the middle, the 2 hour running time could and probably should have been cut to closer to 90 minutes but on a whole I found it to be very charming in a very British way. It's a 6/10 kind of film for me, I like it, just not loving it but I will watch anything with Bill Nighy in it the man is a genius.
The Boat That Rocked made $29,800,000 worldwide which is very healthy for a British comedy as British humour often doesn't translate well into other languages or other regions. If your looking for a no brainer with a couple of good laughs check it out if you're looking for something with a bit more meat on it's bones I'd go with Invictus.
The Housebound Writer