Wimbledon is a truly charming
little romantic comedy which may get overlooked with all the bigger,
flashier films out there surrounding it. That would be a shame.
The film is tasteful and subtle -- even
the poster is, our two leads in spotless white outfits almost fade into the snow-white background.
While that quiet confidence is admirable, it will not help it to stand out
to a sensation-starved movie-going public.
Another risk, and one that pays off
handsomely, is giving Paul Bettany the chance to be the lead in a romantic
comedy. While he has done some stellar supporting work in A
Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander, Bettany is still
probably best known to the public at large as the lucky stiff who married
Well, Bettany shines here, proving that he
is quite able to carry a film. He plays Peter Colt, an aging (at 32!)
tennis pro who once was thisclose to being one of the top ten tennis players
in the world (he topped out at eleven.) Still, three years of steady
losses and a quickly falling world ranking (he's currently in the 120s) have
him thinking of retiring. When he gets a wild-card invitation to the
famous annual tournament at Wimbledon, he decides this will be his last
hurrah before hanging up his racket.
Things change for him when he meets a new
American phenom named Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst.) They meet just
a bit too cutely; when he is checking into the hotel, Peter is given the
wrong key and walks in on her while she is taking a shower. She takes
it in stride. He seems much more flustered by the incident than her.
It turns out that she may be new to the
Wimbledon tournament, but she has been around the block as far as the tennis
world is concerned. Lizzie has been trained since she was a little
girl to be a pro by her overbearing father (Sam Neill). She has gotten
a reputation for being fiery with the line judges and having little flings
on tournaments to keep herself loose.
It is a nice role reversal that Lizzie for
the most part seems the aggressive one in the relationship; Peter is just a
little flustered in his upper-crust British way, and rather astonished by
his luck. Then a rather amazing thing happens. Peter, whose
confidence had been completely shattered as a player, starts to win.
He beats a succession of higher-ranked (and younger) tennis pros and becomes
the comeback darling of the tournament.
In the meantime, Lizzie's father Dennis
sees her losing focus, getting distracted. He has gotten used to
overlooking his daughter's little trysts, but he realizes that this was
different. He asks Peter to stop seeing his daughter, because he is
taking her head out of the game. When Peter assures him that it isn't
a casual thing, and Dennis replies that he knows. His daughter is
falling in love, that was the problem. It is to Neill's credit that
his is able to play this role that could be so unlikable and is able to
invest it with depth, and it is to the screenplay's credit that they are
willing to acknowledge that Dennis may be right in some of his concerns.
The ending to Wimbledon is probably
not going to surprise that many people, but it is a very satisfying end to
the story. Sometimes a movie doesn't have to pull a rabbit out of its
hat. This film is a nice reminder that at times a nice love story with
interesting characters and intriguing situations is more than enough.
Copyright ©2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: December 28, 2004.