Top critical review
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A film of two halves...
on 20 April 2010
Invictus is a good film; if you love rugby, then it is an excellent film. It retells the 1995 world cup in South Africa (SA) and the political weight that the team carried throughout the competition. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela, the recently-liberated and newly-elected president of SA who sees the importance of uniting the heavily divided country behind the Springboks (a white minority and a black majority, both still bearing grudges from apartheid). The majority of the country see the Springbok's 'green & gold' as a symbol of apartheid rule and consequently despise the team, backing anybody that the 'boks play against. Mandela sees the vital importance of having a common ground to be proud of; the importance of a symbol of national pride in reuniting the country and explains the gravity of the situation to Francois Pienaar (Damon) who then has to spur the team on to victory to give SA something to be proud of and a symbol to stand behind, together.
Clint Eastwood's direction is flawless, the film is well put together; however I don't particularly remember the artistic direction of any one scene standing out too much but that might be the benchmark of a consistently well shot film.
The actors really make this film, Morgan Freeman plays Mandela with the grace and poise he deserves and a lot of effort has been made to make the scenes and settings as true to the original events as possible. However, the one drawback I noted, is that Matt Damon's SA accent is VERY shaky. At one point (the locker-room scene) he sounds positively Australian; consequently I had the feeling throughout the film that his dialogue had been reduced as much as possible. Despite this, Damon's acting is good and really convinces you of the pressure he is under; training, leading the team and trying to fulfil Mandela's wishes.
I recommend this film, despite Damon's dodgy accent, to anybody who is a fan of rugby, who saw the 1995 world cup and even anybody who would like to know a little about the fragile situation in SA that still persists today. A highly charged film with decent subject matter!!