I love Matt Damon. I loved him in INVICTUS. I love Clint Eastwood, director. I did NOT love INVICTUS. It's one of the biggest disappointments of the "serious" movie season to date. The trailer and the premise promise a great, inspiring drama about Nelson Mandela's attempt to heal apartheid-riven South Africa by focusing efforts on the winning of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela(and apparently he's the first choice to play anyone who has godlike characteristics-- or even on occasion-- God himself). Damon plays the captain of South Africa's rugby team, whose fans are predominantly white; the blacks would root for anyone else, as a stance against the oppressor. Despite the complexity of the issues, and the real life "hook" of a sports team with its identity and soul on the line, the film is shockingly one-dimensional and emotionally dead. Sloganeering substitutes for dialogue ("This country is hungry for greatness.") while songs with lyrics like "I'm colorblind" play on the cloying soundtrack. Characters are either fuzzy (who is that brunette--his sister or his girlfriend? What was the pilot doing with that plane anyway??) The whole thing is as heavy-handed as the bone-crushing sport called rugby, played without protective gear, and featuring sudden gymnastic maneuvers to get the ball down the field, IF they survive the scrum! The sport itself was the biggest revelation here-- that and Matt Damon's ability to once again physically transform himself while nimbly managing a very convincing South African accent. He was absolutely authentic despite the constraints of a part that was grossly underwritten.
Tomorrow--Penelope Cruz in BROKEN EMBRACES!!!
and stay tuned!