Stars: *** out of Four
Summary: A balanced, inspiring Nelson Mandela biopic with all the necessary heart and action of a sports movie.
Review: So there I was, waiting for the 12:50 A.M. showing of James Cameron’s hyped supermovie, ‘Avatar’, which would be playing in 3D on a pretty sizable IMAX screen. I had a couple hours before it would start, so I passed time waiting for a movie with another movie, Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial feature, ‘Invictus’. I had the advantage of knowing next to nothing about the film before I walked in, and it’s an event in history I know very little about anyhow.
It’s a brilliant (and apparently historically rooted) synthesis of political biopic and sports drama. Due to the formulaic and in my opinion unexciting nature of most sports films, I was not too terribly jazzed at the outset of the film, but by the time it had finished, I realized why this movie worked: Because the arena of Rugby is not the subject, but the battleground for South Africa’s hopes for greatness and national identity in wake of the end of apartheid. In short, it’s not a sports movie, but a solid and beautiful drama with Rugby in it. The tone and characterizations are consistent and believable, which gives some of the on-the-nose elements a needed balance. It’s a very accessible film, and well-made.