Straight off I have to make something clear, I wasn’t really looking forward to watching this. A romantic comedy movie from some of the Working Title team based on Wimbledon didn’t exactly set my pulse racing. I did not want another comedy from this stable, for me Love Actually had stretched the idea enough for me.
So after seeing it I’m very surprised I enjoyed it so much. Despite the rom-com badge and the almost unbelievable premise of Wimbledon it’s actually very entertaining and the focus is very much on the com side of that genre label.
The movie has a lot of style right from the very cool opening credits. The filming of the tennis scenes are well done and keep the flow of the movie going. Imagine showing all the crucial Tennis matches for two players climbing through the stages in Wimbledon without the story going dull and the cinematography going into a standard and repetitive style? Well it doesn’t, it’s almost matrix-esue in it’s style in fact. For sports and romantic films, it certainly breaks the mould.
Putting aside the style and the fast paced music, what about the story? Well it’s actually got a few twists which are quite unexpected and although it does tread typical ground, the turns are enough to keep you guessing as to the outcome and keep you hooked.
Neat the finals this really does come out and I was very surprised to find myself on the edge of my seat for some of the points, and indeed some of the matches.
It’s very funny too, and Paul Bettany shows a particular talent for timing, comedy and looks on camera. It’s Bettany that really carries this movie backed by strong performances by Kirsten Dunst, Sam Neill and some smaller British filled roles for Bettany’s characters family.
Bettany is totally believable from playing the tennis matches through to the romantic moments. His acting talent shows through amazingly well and is aided by a fantastically written script with some truly funny moments. In particular the self talking moments when we travel inside the head of the tennis player during a match. They seem to capture perfectly the moments of self doubt we all seem to have, quite insightful.
Presented: English – Dolby Digital (5.1)
Sporting an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at times you can hear the ground around you applauding, or the sound of a ball going past. When a moment of dialogue appears everything is dialled down and there’s no attempt at over use.
Presented: Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Something that struck me was the potential to have the screen be overpowered by the greens of Wimbledon and with the traditional weather there was a thought that the movie would look too dark and dull. Neither is true.
The picture is sharp and vibrant through the movie, clear and bright and very colour rich, it retains this look through even the more complex of special effects match shots.
Presented: Audio commentary with Richard Loncraine and Paul Bettany, ‘Welcome To The Club’ featurette, ‘Ball Control’ featurette, ‘Coach A Rising Star’ featurette, ‘Wimbledon: A Look Inside’ featurette, Trailers
The featurettes are about how the tennis was filmed, how the actors were trained, looks inside Wimbledon itself, and some further looks into the movie. They are quite short and interesting, but they aren’t the main draw here, they just serve as distractions from the superb audio commentary from Bettany and the director Richard Loncraine.
Insightful, funny and quite revealing, we hear much about the behind the scenes, shots that never were and how the actors got on together. This was one of the better commentaries I’ve heard and well worth listening to. Both Bettany and Loncraine are funny and self depreciating, typical British humour.
It’s a funny and very enjoyable movie, actually quite a surprise and in a way actually funnier than Love Actually. It also seems to capture the inner dialogues that people face daily very well, as well as some of the other dialogue being nailed rather well. Bettany shines in this film and it shows the huge talent that he has.