Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, Invictus, will be released in South Africa on December 11. Bok fans are likely to heap scorn on the rugby scenes, but hopefully it won’t matter.
Apparently there’s a lot of rugby in Invictus. The first reviews are in, and while the critics have so far said it’s an okay (but not outstanding) film, a lot of them seem to be quite taken with the game. The Huffington Post reviewer reckons the movie’s got more rugby in it than she’s ever seen anywhere. “I’m into it now,” she writes. “Might see some in real life.”
Lovely to hear. But the same reviewer then gives Invictus a six out of ten, which has got to make you wonder how it’s going to be received by South Africans. Ruben Kruger, Kobus Wiese, Naka Drotske, Rudolph Straeuli and Brendan Venter are all listed as dramatis personae, and the local audience is nothing if not wise to the subtleties of these mens’ movements across a rugby field. Can Graham Lindemann really demonstrate the awesomeness of Kobus’s arrival at a ruck? Can Rolf Fitschen throw a lineout ball as straight as Naka?
The answer, of course, is no. And because the answer is no, there’s likely to be much sniggering when the film gets released here this month. In fact, the sniggering has been gathering momentum for a while already – honestly, what was your first reaction when you heard that Matt Damon was cast as Francois Pienaar? Did you tell your mates that the guy was born for the role?
There is another side to this story, though, which will hopefully quell at least a bit of the inevitable scorn. It’s flattering for Springbok fans to have their heroes played by A-list Hollywood celebrities, even ones who can’t put any spin on a pass. Also, the movie’s plot line covers one of the most uplifting periods in this country’s recent history. A reliving of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, can hardly be a bad thing.
Then there’s the fact that Invictus might have left a positive legacy for our own filmmaking industry. “The most challenging thing was just getting past this mindset that bending the rules for filmmakers wasn't allowed," Rob Lorenz, who produced the film with Clint Eastwood, told the Hollywood Reporter. "Permission to shoot at the presidential offices was granted and rescinded no less than four times, but we persisted, and I think we were the first company in 25 years that shot there."
By Kevin Bloom
WATCH: Invictus trailer (HD)