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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Wimbledon

MOVIE REVIEWS

WIMBLEDON  (2004)

Starring Paul Bettany, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Neill, Jon Favreau, Bernard Hill, James McAvoy, Austin Nichols, Eleanor Bron, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Barry Lee-Thomas, Robert Lindsay, Celia Imrie, Penny Ryder, Annabel Leventon, Jonathan Timmins, Kelly Shirley, Gemma Catlin, Mary Carillo, John Barrett, Chris Evert and John McEnroe.

Screenplay by Adam Brooks and Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin.

Directed by Richard Loncraine.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  98 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 Everyday Beautiful

Wimbledon

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 Jennifer Connelly.

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.  (9/04)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2004 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Posted: December 28, 2004.

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Copyright ©2004   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Posted: December 28, 2004.

 

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