Volume 94, Issue 38
Tuesday, November 18, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Fresh Prince meets Bagger Vance
Photo By David James
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Starring: Matt Damon, Will Smith, Charlize Theron
Directed By: Robert Redford
By Kara Maroney
Many films appear to be about sport, but they are really about life; The Legend of Bagger Vance is no different.
It seems movie makers and audiences alike cannot get enough of sport as a metaphor for life. Thankfully, Robert Redford hits the mark with his latest directorial effort, The Legend of Bagger Vance. In it he combines the stirring dramatic story of a man who has lost his way, with just the right amount of light entertainment and humour.
Matt Damon stars as Rannulph Junuh, a golfer with a bright career ahead of him, who goes off to fight in World War I. Junuh returns to his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, 10 years later, disillusioned with life and searching for his "swing."
He is convinced to return to the game in a tournament being held in Savannah and organized by his onetime love interest, Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron). And so, in comes Will Smith as Bagger Vance, a guardian angel type character, who tries to help Junuh rediscover his authentic swing.
All three actors are very natural in their roles as there is no sense of overacting. It has to be mentioned that Smith's performance is quite good and nicely subtle. It is refreshing to see him living up to his potential in a well-meaning film.
This is a film that makes good performances better because of a poignant story, a thoughtful script and wonderful cinematography. The film is not about golf, but about remembering and rediscovering the gift inside oneself. However, golf was the sport of choice for very good reason. It is an individual and mental sport that definitly requires a natural born talent.
The tournament consisting of 54 holes is a microcosm for Junuh's deeper journey. Bagger Vance is not just for golf fans but movie fans. In fact the golf fan might be disappointed at the lack of references to the sport itself.
Junuh's journey is guided, but not forced by Bagger Vance, his spiritual caddy. Every moviegoer may not be able to relate to having a caddy, but most can relate to having that special person suddenly enter their lives for a short period of time, who has such a profound effect, as to be remembered for a life time. Bagger is there to help Junuh, but he speaks ambigously to make sure Junuh finds his swing on his own strength.
Bagger acts as a conduit to Junuh, to help him find the gift that has always been inside him, which cannot be taken away by external forces. In one of the best scenes, Junuh finds his ball deep in the woods and it brings back painful war memories. It is a beautifully filmed scene and its significance is well underscored by the music and camera work. It is the pivotal moment when Junuh must decide to either remain in the forest with his memories or come out and find happiness again.
The Legend Of Bagger Vance is definitly enjoyable and moving. While, it is a bit choppy at the beginning, the film finds a rhythm and flow quite early on. Just when it seems Redford is beginnning to draw a scene out, the film quickly gathers pace again and injects the perfect amount of humour mostly on Smith's part without overdoing it in the least.
Don't be turned away because of the golf theme, or else a good film will be missed, a film that can inspire anyone who has ever lost their way in life.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000