Game of Love

by Alan Rapp on October 17, 2006

in Home Video

  • Title: Wimbledon
  • IMDB: link

wimbledon-posterIf you are a fan of tennis, love stories, romantic comedies, and good acting and writing then I’ve got a film for you.  And if you aren’t, well if everyone had good taste we wouldn’t need critics, would we?  Wimbledon wasn’t a big success at the box office, but it scores big on screen, and here on DVD.

Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is at the end of his career.  Once ranked as high as eleventh in the world, the professional tennis player has fallen to 119 in the world and has picked Wimbledon for his swan song.  A hotel mix-up creates a chance meeting with up-and-comer American Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst).

The two enjoy spending time together, and Lizzie’s presence seems to bolster Peter’s game to the point that this British wildcard has a chance to win Wimbledon.  The relationship however is hurting Lizzie’s game, which doesn’t go unnoticed by her over-protective father (Sam Neil) who warns Peter to stay away from his little girl.

The film is a joy to watch.  Tennis fans will get a chance to see action on the courts and grounds of Wimbledon where the matches were actually filmed.  Also there are some nice cameos by John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Mary Carillo, all playing themselves.  (McEnroe even steals the biggest laugh of the film.)

Bettany is terrific, both on and off the court, and the inner-dialogue of his character is nicely used by director Richard Loncraine.  Neil works well as Dennis Bradbury, who in a lesser film would play a one-dimensional all-or-nothing overbearing father, but here shows the complex love of a father of a professional athlete.  Also worth mentioning are hilarious supporting performances by James McAvoy as Peter’s shameless brother and Jon Favreau as the even more shameless agent for both Peter and Lizzie.

It’s Dunst however who is the belle of this ball.  At times I feel she’s put into roles that don’t fit her well (see both Spider-Man flicks), but here she’s perfect as the beautiful, strong-willed, win-at-all-costs, but wants something more, Lizzie.

The film is often compared to Notting Hill, which I liked less than most people and considered fluffy and forgettable.  Other than being a love story between an American and a Englishman it has little in common.  Wimbledon gives us great matches, good performances, a surprisingly heartfelt love story, and some memorable moments.  Is there any more we can ask?

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