I do not understand rugby at all.
It seems like a cool sport – Guys hitting other guys, a brutal, bruising sport played by hooligans and watched by gentlemen. A film about rugby is not a bad idea if people in America actually understood the sport – since we don’t, having the game be the main storyline does not work well at all. I watched the final game with my room mate Matt; after it was over, he looked at me and said “Wait…. is it over? Did… they win?” and all I could do is shrug and say “yea, I guess it is over. I donno…”
Man, I wish I understood rugby.
Now, the 1995 rugby world cup as a background for the recent election of Nelson Mandela (played well by Morgan Freeman) and the recent abolishment of Apartheid could work as a storyline if we could more see how it draws the country together, using Mandela as a side story. In reality, his character is not incredibly interesting – in fact he is a very bland person with an incredible history, little of which comes out in the film. Morgan Freeman does well in portraying him, to the point where you feel and believe in your heart of hearts he really is Mandela. Balancing against him is the white Springbok captain (Springbok is the name of the South African National rugby team) François Pienaar (Played by Matt Damon).
Now, suspend reality for a moment. Pretend that the captain isn’t the toughest guy on the team (Which François was) and pretend he wasn’t an automatic vocal leader from the beginning 2 years earlier (which François was), lets even suspend that he wasn’t the biggest guy on the team (François was about 6’4″ and 230 lbs during his playing days) and VIOLA! You have Matt Damon!
Ok. That wasn’t fair. But he was offered a role where he was, for all accounts, the 2nd smallest guy on the pitch, but speaks about how he “leads by example”. It wasn’t even realistic to think of him going up against guys who are 6″ taller, 35-60lb of muscle heavier and he “lead by example”. This alone detracts from the story for me – though he acted very well throughout, I kept looking at him like he was the only High school sophomore on the high school varsity football squad – his time on the feild was out of place, though his acting ability was not.
Overall, the film was decent, and piqued my interest in rugby – though the academy should have through twice before making these two nominations with so many justified talent waiting in the pool for their chance.