Film & TV


Rating: PG

Running Time: 133 minutes

Release Date: now showing

Biographic epic based on Nelson mandela’s leadership during the 1995 Rugby World Cup held in South Africa.  Directed by Clint Eastwwod and based on the John Carlin book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the game that changed a nation.” it stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.  The story essentially starts when Mandela becomes president of South Africa in 1994 and he is faced with the challenges of balancing black South African aspirations with white fears.  He decides to use the sport of rugby in an attempt to unite the country torn apart by many years of racial hatred.  The Springbok Rugby Team has come to symbolise white supremacy however Mandela in his diplomatic way convinces the Sth African Rugby board to retain the Springbok name and colours.  He then meets with Springbok captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) in order to garner non partisan support and inspire him to lead his team to success in the upcoming World Cup.  Initially the team shows resistance to being used as a political pawn however after interacting with local communities and children the upswell of support sees a change of heart.  With the nation uniting behind them the Springbok’s begin to win against greater opponents.

It truly is an uplifting and inspitrational film and Freeman is absolutely believable as Mandela and demonstrates all his humility, grace, prescence and nuances superbly. Damon puts in a solid performance as well which saw them both nominated for Academy Awards.  The fact this movie was based on true events in the humbling life of Nelson Mandela together with the performance of Freeman is probably the only thing that lifts this film from being mediocre.  It just doesn’t seem to reach great heights and though enjoyable I thought it could have delivered more.  Slightly disappointing effort from the normally brilliant Eastwood.

3/5 stars

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