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LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Gifted young golfer Rannulph Junnuh (Matt Damon) is a changed man after he returns from the savagery of World War I, unable to play, a reclusive figure who shuns even his gorgeous fiancee, Adele (Charlize Theron). Yet it is she – with a little help from young Hardy (Michael Moncrief) - who maneuvers him back onto the course in a spectacular tournament with America’s two great golfers of the day, Walter Hagen (Bruce McGill) and Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch). But it is a mysterious stranger, Bagger Vance (Will Smith) who provides the coaching and caddying that helps Junnuh rediscover his swing – and his persona.

"With its earnest and nostalgic mood, The Legend of Bagger Vance typifies the overworked romanticism of Robert Redford’s filmmaking persona. As gentle and admirable as it is, it is also melodramatic and schmaltzy, lacking the edge and resonance of a genuine character study – which this could and should have been. Too often Redford chooses the sentimental over the insightful, making this a limp effort, instead of the invigorating item it might have been. For example, he glosses over a ten year distance between young lovers after the horrific World War I; we are teased with a glamourised glimpse of Matt Damon’s Junnuh in a single sequence that is supposed to establish this character’s spiritual dilapidation in the wake of his war experiences, but we are told this, rather than shown it. There is too much space given to faux mysticism from Smith’s Bagger Vance, an otherwise appealing ‘angel’ character drawing on a long tradition of mysterious strangers who change the lives of protagonists in modern and ancient stories. Negatives aside, Damon, Smith, Charlize Theron and the youngster Michael Moncrief – as well as the entire supporting cast – deliver marvelous performances amidst the overwrought script, making us care enough and identify enough to save the film from being shallow. In trying hard to elevate the golf at the core of the story to symbolic levels, Redford spends too much energy on wise observations and golden sunset shots to make the film click; it glumps nicely."
Andrew L. Urban

"Like For Love of the Game, Fever Pitch and The Cup which use sport to show passion, determination and courage, The Legend of Bagger Vance uses golf as the platform for its story. Robert Redford has lovingly and skillfully created a gentle film that is beautiful to look at with glorious cinematography, rich textures and characters that we genuinely care about. While its structure at times feels clumsy and too drawn out, there are many subtle joys to discover in this leisurely told tale. Like a writer with his words, a golfer has only the ball for company; his focus is his strength or downfall. Matt Damon is wonderfully charismatic as Junnuh; it is the kind of character and role that Redford might have played himself some years ago. Damon and Redford have good looks and their enigmatic screen presence in common, and if it doesn't sound too old fashioned, they also share an image that defines gentlemanly conduct. Perfectly cast, Damon and the gorgeous, feisty Charlize Theron both dazzle with not only their smiles, but nuances, while Will Smith injects an amiable enigmatic quality to his Bagger Vance. Watch out for J. Michael Moncrief as the little boy Hardy Greaves, whose inspiration is the basis of this story. Moncrief is superb and most endearing in a very real way. While it may not be a perfect film, what I like most about the film is the mood and superb production design which envelops us in this era when barber shops were the rage and the jazz bands played on the terrace. It's a satisfying journey from the woods to the green, and of course everything rests on the final act when the game is played long after the sun has gone down. But there's more to it than winning or losing and gentleman's honour and good sportsmanship are part of the melee."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2


ROBERT REDFORD talks about making the movie

Jenny Cooney Carillo talks

to MATT DAMON

TRAILER

LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, THE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Matt Damon, Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Bruce McGill, Joel Gretsch, Michael Moncrief

DIRECTOR: Robert Redford

PRODUCERS: Jake Eberts, Michael Nozik, Robert Redford

SCRIPT: Jeremy Leven (from Steven Pressfield’s novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Ballhaus

EDITOR: Hank Corwin

MUSIC: Rachel Portman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stuart Craig

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 8, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: July 4, 2001







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