7 Reasons to go and Watch Invictus
1. Morgan Freeman. Usually the veteran actor gets typecast as God, but in Invictus he gets promoted and puts in a superb performance as Nelson Mandela. His accent is a bit dodgy, but the same could be said of all South Africans. Either that or they genuinely believe it’s called “Sowt Efrica”.
2. Rugby. There aren’t many decent films about rugby and the depiction of the game is pretty good in Invictus. It’s not up to the standard of This Sporting Life, but that’s almost 50 years old and is about the wrong rugby – the one they play in the North-West that makes you shout “For fucks sake, run around him” when you accidentally see television coverage of it. Perhaps I’m missing some subtle nuance of that game, but why do they always run straight into an opposing player?
3. Crying. Everyone loves a good cry – something I often tell myself when I’ve put my foot in it again, and if you’re prone to crying at sport or movies, you’ll definitely cry at the conclusion of Invictus. Eastwood manages to wring just about every ounce of emotion out of the film’s climax. If you’re at all sensitive, you’ll cry like a girl – even if you aren’t one.
4. Crying. I didn’t cry like a girl while everyone else in the cinema was blubbing though. Oh no. I cried when Jonah Lomu ran amok with the ball and rampaged through the defenceless England backs. It brought it all back to me; the big bully, those poor little mites, the carnage. Oh, the horror.
5. Sound. Want to hear rugby with improbable sounds dubbed on? Of course you do. Go and see Invictus. Every tackle sounds like a gunshot within a biscuit-tin within a kettle-drum within an empty water-tank within an Airbus A340 flying through a thunderstorm. The woman sitting next to me gasped during every tackle. She may have been mental though, there’s usually one in every cinema.
6. England. As the film is based on real sporting events I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that Rory Underwood scores a try for England during the film. This is great, though the rest of the audience will not thank you for celebrating it. Trust me.
7. Matt Damon. MAAAATTTT DAAAAAMMMON!!!!! He is brilliant in Invictus. His South African accent is convincing and he plays Francois Pienaar with a lovely, understated dignity. He has also transformed his entire body to play the role. The shot in which they show his upper torso is entirely gratuitous, but his musculature is astonishing – it is physical evidence of the dedication that he brought to his preparation for the film. Being much shorter than the real Francois Pienaar, he had to stand on a box for several of his scenes. I explained this to my friend before we went in to see the film. “Matt Damon’s pretty short”, I said, demonstrating his height with my hand at about chest level. I then raised my hand above me, stood on tiptoes, and extended my right arm fully, “but Francois Pienaar’s enormous, he’s 6ft 3!!! That’s…er…an inch taller than we are”. I have already been made to feel quite silly for that, thank you for asking.