Thursday 30 September 2004

A pleasant surprise. And another.

Went to the cinema last night, not to see anything in particular, but just kind of on spec. Decided to try Wimbledon, as we really just wanted something lightweight to relax to. And bugger me if it wasn't actually rather good.

If you don't like romantic comedies, you won't like it, as it is one. If you don't like tennis, you probably won't like it either (though you will no doubt appreciate the consideration of the film's producers in giving it a name synonymous with "Tennis haters: don't watch this."). But I love lawn tennis and I've got a soft spot for romantic comedies. Yeah, the genre produces a lot of real dross, not to mention a massive body of films that are merely competent, mildly entertaining while you're watching them but utterly forgotten the second you leave the cinema, which is somehow even worse than dross. But, when it's done well, the results are class. Witness Annie Hall and Two Weeks Notice. And Wimbledon.

The special effects are amazing. "Special effects?" I hear you type. "In a romantic comedy?" Yes, it's true. The makers clearly love tennis and have created some of the greatest footage of the game ever. Sure, we all know that you can do anything with a computer and enough time these days, but that doesn't prevent the wondrousness of having a ball's-eye view of a tennis match. How many of the balls were real and how many were computer-generated, I couldn't say. And the actors at least seem to be bloody good players.

They are also good actors, especially Paul Bettany, who does a perfect job of the world-weary, cynical, upper-class Englishman suddenly and unexpectedly finding his self-contempt destroyed by happiness. Bernard Hill and Eleanor Bron are hilarious as his dysfunctional parents. The script is tight and funny, and emotional when it needs to be but no more; the direction does a beautiful job of capturing atmosphere and character. There's really not much they could have done better with this material.

The only problem is that they used real commentators, whose commentary is (of course) scripted and sounds it. I love John McEnroe, but directors should be ruthless about this sort of thing: if he can't read a script without sounding like he's in a school play, get him out of the film. And Chris Evert. Danny Baker and Chris Moyles sounded perfectly normal, though. Well, as normal as they ever do.

Then I came home and got asked to be an usher at my sister-in-law's wedding, which was quite a surprise, as she hadn't been engaged when we went out. This will be my first time in an official role at a wedding, rather than just being a guest. Oh, apart from being the groom once, but that doesn't count.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm supposed to be going to the Fred Perry screening at Leicester Square on Monday, but as I can't stand rom-coms and can only barely stand tennis, I've been considering giving it a miss. You've helped me decide to go home after the dinner and drinks!