I watched this film last night and on the whole I enjoyed the story of Nelson Mandela’s attempts at unifying a nation coming out of apartheid through the rugby world cup. However, I felt the film was a bit heavy handed and with Morgan Freeman’s bad (or lack of) accent, lacked authenticity at times. This surprised me because I’ve enjoyed director Clint Eastwood’s past offerings.
The choreography of the rugby scenes left a lot to be desired. Old Clint managed to make rugby as a sport look like a complete snooze fest. I don’t know what rugby advisors he had, but I think the film would have been greatly improved if he’d used real rugby players instead of actors (they looked like complete amateurs) and sought out the advice of professional cameramen/women who were familiar with filming actual test matches.
The artistic camera angles did not create any sense of suspense or convey what a rugby match is really like. This combined with actors looking like they were playing an under 12 touch rugby tournament at a school picnic left me believe that rugby would not have converted any novices to the sport’s appeals in the two hour duration of this film. It’s ironic really because the 1995 world cup final was one of the most nail biting test matches I’ve ever seen.
The Nelson Mandela story had moments of cheesily pulling at your heart strings but it did leave me wondering what was real and what was Hollywood. If the world cup really did unify a nation for a split second in 1995, then the loss of my beloved All Blacks might have been worth it.
Other good things about the film? Matt Damon was ok. There were no vuvuzelas rattling around on the soundtrack, destroying my will to live. And I was introduced to the poem Invictus which is beautifully inspiring.