Invictus is Pretty Good . . . But It's No Ruck and Maul
Clint Eastwood's movie Invictus is just as much about rugby as it is about Nelson Mandela, and although the film doesn't try to explain the rules of the game or make a coherent narrative out of game play (which was smart . . . and if you watch highlights of the actual Springbok/All-Black Final, you'll see the film does a fantastic job of capturing the look and feel of rugby, including the "haka," New Zealand's pre-game Maori war dance) it is a sports movie first and foremost . . . about two underdogs, the inspirational Mandela, who survived a twenty seven year training camp breaking rocks on Robben Island, and the Springboks, a mainly white team (with a token black), upon who Mandela bestows the responsibility of bringing honor and reconciliation to South Africa . . . it is well filmed and well-acted but it definitely sticks to the sports genre: nearly every scene is inspirational in some way, and-- as I am a sucker for sports movies-- it had me near tears multiple times (even a scene of the team running in the early morning before the big game got me choked up . . . but show me a movie where some mom dies of cancer with her kids around her deathbed and it has no effect) but it still portrays the characters with a hagiographic sheen that will make the movie ultimately forgettable . . . unlike The Wrestler, a film that I will never forget . . . and all this rugby and film discussion reminds me of "Ruck and Maul," a rugby screen-play that Whitney and I wrote many years ago which was certainly closer in theme to The Wrestler than Invictus . . . perhaps now is the time to pull it back out and pitch it.