There really is not much I can say about this Clint Eastwood directed film. Being a huge Eastwood fan, I must say that while the movie was very professionally done, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, it is pleasant, but still boring. The whole movie has the feel of an over simplified high school history lesson. Highlights of the film include Damon’s fantastic South African accent, and the views of South Africa (which still aren’t many).
The story is rather simple. Nelson Mandela (Freeman) is president of South Africa, and he begins his reconciliation of the whites and blacks. To do this? Of course, he turns to sport. Damon is the captain of the Springboks (South Africa’s rugby team), who leads the team to a victory in the World Cup. Throughout the film, Mandela’s lessons, delivered delightfully by Freeman, are over simplified and preachy. Of course, the sentiment is nice, yet there is something simply not presidential about Freeman’s portion of the script. Damon’s role is minute in the movie at best, although when he’s present, he does a good job.
The film’s portrayal of the relationship between whites and blacks is too fast, and, as earlier said, oversimplified. Having been to South Africa, I have witnessed first hand the discrimination against blacks to this day, and the horrible conditions they endure. The film makes it seem as if through rugby Mandela had solved all of South Africa’s problems. I’m not saying Mandela did not do a fantastic job, as I am a huge supporter of him and the work that he did, the film is simply too simple.
My one wish for the film was that it had utilized South Africa’s landscape more. South Africa is an absolutely gorgeous place, filled with both beautiful landscapes and cities. The portraits which did appear, especially of Cape Town were minimal and did not portray South Africa in the light I believe it should be. The disparity which can be seen in the slums (shanty towns) that many of the blacks are forced to live in, compared to the clean, ornate cities of the whites truly portrays the enormous gaps between rich and poor. One does not need to be a history teacher to see this, and I wish that Eastwood had utilized these simple images more to his advantage.
Characterization is minimal, at best. Quips about Mandela’s personal life are thrown about randomly but don’t connect, and Damon’s character has no characterization what so ever. His teammates are mearly figures, no more than the sports players they were cast as.
Overall, a professional job, yet not top-notch. Despite this, the movie (because of the 10 best films this year) probably will get an Oscar nod. A noble nomination, for a noble try.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Overall: The movie is professional, and not horrible, but kind of boring and very oversimplified.