Having watched this film more times than I can remember and reading the comments left so far I feel that a major message of this film has gone completely overlooked. Even as a complete golf addict, I can look beyond the obvious inspirational story and see than the focus is on Junah's battle with faith, and why does nobody mention that Bagger Vance is a guardian angel? I'm not a religious person so please don't get the wrong idea but is it not obvious at the end when old Hardy Greaves dies and Bagger appears on the horizon? "I'm right here with ya, I've been here all along..." And please Junah's trauma was caused by WW1 NOT WW2 - it is 1930 (WW2 did not start until 1939!) OK,the direction by Redford is fantastic with the portrayal of the characters done (and acted) extremely well. Will Smith and Matt Damon play the roles brilliantly, especially Smith. Perhaps Damon seems a little young to be a veteran at times though, but all the same-flawless. Theron, physically, looks perfect for the role but, like Damon, not a woman assumedley in her mid-thirties. I only wish more money could have been spent on this film and it would have been made into the epic it deserves to be. Far more than a simple, soft inspirational story. One must look beyond to see the real message, oh and if your not a golfer, you might not completely 'get it'.
Maybe it was because I had a hard week at work. Maybe it was because I just needed something to make me feel good. I don't know. I can't pinpoint it, but for some reason I really liked this movie. Sure it was manipulative, and sure it tried it's best to make you feel all mushy inside, but you know what...I guess I was just in the mood for that, and this movie hit the spot last Friday night. From a cinematography stand point the movie is beautiful. Redford is known for this trait, and indeed has directed some of the most beautiful movies ever made (A River Runs Through It, The Milagro Beanfield War, The Horse Whisperer). He just chooses some very beautiful scenery and runs with it. However, besides the scenery, the movie seemed to flow like a steady river. The acting was superb (even Smith's subdued Bagger), and the story was interesting. I like golf, so maybe that helped, but I do think that anyone can enjoy this movie. You just have to let yourself like it.
The thing you have to bear in mind when watching The Legend of Bagger Vance is that sports movies, by their very definition, tend to match the atmosphere of the sport they depict. Football or Ice hockey movies for instance tend to be loud, bombastic and flashy, just like the games themselves. Basketball movies meanwhile often rely on the street/hip hop connection and are just as loud, but with a slightly more gritty edge to them, provided you completely forget about the atrocious Space Jam. Bagger Vance on the other hand revolves entirely around golf and consequently, is a lot quieter, slower paced and gentle than its brash genre cousins, but it nevertheless possesses a charm and subtlety that is quite endearing.
Told completely in flashback, the film's story involves Matt Damon's depressed World War One veteran Rannulph Junnuh taking part in a highly publicised golf tournament against two established (real life) professionals - Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. At first things don't look good, Junnuh hasn't played the game since getting back from the trenches and is a slovenly drunken washout and despite having the support of the townsfolk, nobody really expects him to win. And then he gets a new caddy in the shape of Bagger Vance (Will Smith).
At this point I imagine alarm bells are ringing in your head. Will Smith must mean wise-cracking, one-liners and the word 'damn' being stretched out so that it consists of two syllables right? Well you'll be relieved to know that Bagger is a pleasant change of direction for the normal Smith stereotype. Relaxing on his heels and working his acting muscles instead of his action hero ones, Smith is the undeniable soul of the movie. His eminently likable charm is still there, but he relies more on home spun wisdom and gentle prodding to help Damon back into his game, rather than calling him a honkey and effecting a cocky swagger. Playing off against him, Matt Damon is suitably vulnerable and insecure but is overshadowed a bit and with the exception of Junnuh's two rivals, the rest of the cast might as well be superfluous. Thankfully, Junnuh's redemption and Vance's easy going friendship is enough to carry the film and the story, while corny, is just as charming as the title character.
Elsewhere, director Robert Redford once again shows off his knack for beautiful cinematography. As most of the film takes place on golf courses you're never too far away from some gorgeous scenery and the contrast between the vibrant green vegetation and stunning blue sky makes Bagger Vance a feast for the eyes. Given the film's somewhat slow pace, it also makes this an ideal choice for a wet Sunday afternoon where you'd like to go for a walk and appreciate the countryside but are unable to thanks to the rain.
That said, Bagger Vance still has its faults. The writing is a bit hackneyed and anyone who doesn't like cheese would do well to stay away. Junnuh's love interest sub-plot with golf promoter Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron) meanwhile feels tacked on and unnecessary, as though somewhere along the production line someone decided that if Junnuh was to fully come to terms with himself he'd have to get it on with a sweet country belle. The positives outweigh the negatives though and if you're in the mood for a relaxing, slow paced movie with a lot of subtleties that not everyone will appreciate, you can't really go wrong with Bagger Vance. This is a film to watch with your feet up, the house clean and a big mug of hot chocolate in your hand. And refreshingly enough for a sports movie, it doesn't feature a scene where a big crowd begins cheering wildly while over-the-top power ballads play in the background, that alone should be enough to raise an eyebrow or two.
It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a movie as much as I did this one. We all watch movies for a lot of reasons besides the obvious reason of "entertainment." While THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE does it in a most charming and entertaining way it is all about Redemption. Each of us faces adversity in our daily life and how we face it marks the quality of the life that we live. Junuh has faced personal demons for more than ten years since he fought in WW I. The "Loss of his swing" is more than an athletic loss that he refers to. He has lost his faith in himself and his ability to face life after his return from the war.
The role of Bagger Vance, ably played by Will Smith, was not as God like as the character described by Steven Pressfield in his book from which this film was adapted. In the movie Vance had the ability to help people think beyond the obvious and to reach back for something special. In Junuh he helps reinstill a personal belief and an appreciation of life. In the Pressfield book, Vance WAS a God.
All of the roles were well played and the young boy playing Lemmon in his youth stole the show. It was also good to see Jack Lemmon in his final movie role. I thought it was an interesting coincidence that Lemmon's final role was in a mystical movie just as Burt Lancaster's was in THE FIELD OF DREAMS. The score was also especially moving and the music fit the movie to a "T." This is a different kind of movie but still qualifies as a "feel good" movie. We don't always have an opportunity to go back and take a second stab at life and that is the beauty of this movie.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to go back and make amends for mistakes we have made in our lives and to come out on the other side as a better person. That is what Junuh was able to achieve and that made me feel very good when the credits rolled. For those of you who thought this was a golfing movie that is not the case. It is a movie about life and the chance to make a fresh start which is always important for those who struggle to overcome adversity.
I guess I'm really into the "winning through adversity" films. I really enjoyed films such as "The Natural" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance." I think the two were about equal. They both show the hero overcoming adversity through a sport's golden age which is what makes this movie great. If you showed a golf or baseball movie today it would not be as believable because they no longer play for the love of the game but for the money. This was set in a time when the game was more dignified. I never though much of Will Smith, thinking of him mostly as a comedy type actor but I think his greatness hit its peak when he started doing these drama type productions. Smith is sensational in his roll. If Redford had a mental picture of Bagger Vance before this movie started, I think he actually saw how Will Smith performed in this film. Matt Damon was good also.
I usually like fantasy movies and I really enjoy sports films. Combine the two well - like "Field Of Dreams" and like this movie - and I am sure to rate this extremely high. I've seen it three times and enjoyed it immensely each time.
It reminded me a bit, too, of "The Natural," but instead of baseball, this one features golf and real-life legends Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen playing the local guy, "Rannulph Junuh" (Matt Damon). Like "The Natural," this is beautifully photographed, has a wonderful feel-good ending, a variety of characters, a beautiful lead woman and good acting.
The no-name child actor in here, J. Michael Moncrief, who plays "Hardy Greaves," narrates the film as an older man looking back on this story. The kid is a fine actor, too, and I really enjoyed his Georgia accent. Charlize Theron is the beauty, playing "Adele Invergordon," a woman who organizes this famous golf match between the greatest amateur player of the world, the best professional and "Junuh," who is the focus of this story. Theron's known for her dramatic roles but she exhibits a nice comedy touch in here.
Damon does his normal fine job of acting and Will Smith, as the angelic caddie "Bagger Vance," is uncharacteristically low-key, which I found nice to see. Bruce Magill did a good as Hagen and Joel Gretsch, likewise, for Jones. Magill is obviously the best real-life golfer here among these actors. Damon had to learn the game from scratch, and did a fine job with his swing.
The only part of this film that went a little overboard - but it's the fantasy part of the story - was the New Age-type preaching by "Bagger." However, some of his speeches were simply golf visualization, which has always been taught as a means to concentrate better on one's shot-making. I didn't think hearing the Lord's name in vain a half dozen times was necessary in here, either, but what are you gonna do? Other than those things, this is great film and I one I throughly appreciate every time I see it.
Has anybody noticed or is it just me... that this movie is based on the Hindu religious epic: the Bhagwad geeta.
Robert has even retained the same names... "bagger vans" pronounced "Bhagwans"... meaning God in Hinduism.... and in this case... specifically.. lord Krishna...
and the main character.... "Rannulph Junuh".. pronounced "Arjuna".. meaning The warrior Arjuna... in the geeta...
the Hindu mythology reads such: Arjuna does not have the will to fight his own brothers in a dispute over a kingdom.. though he is a supreme archer.. he has lost the will to fight....Krishna... advises him over i think 14 days the logic of war and why he has to fight and make things right..
the movie: rannulph has lost his swing or the will to play golf... though being highly talented... bager vans aka god... teaches rannulph the meaning of golf and helps him find his calling and rest as they say is history...
wow... never knew mr. redford was so influenced by Hinduism...
You know, there's basically only two ways you can watch movies. You either use them as food for the thinking mind, or you simply sit back and see where it takes you, as if it's the first thing you've ever seen.
In the first way, your mind generates expectations of what it will get to consume. Then it will be presented its food for consumption, and it will start up its filters in order to judge whether the food is good or bad. And every time you think you can fit it with a negative label, you will gladly make known that you made that recognition.
In the other way, you enter the movie fully and openly, without expectations. And as the experience unfolds, you feel into the characters and relate it to your own being.
From the first perspective, this movie is not very good. It's slow, a bit airy-fairy, and the plot quite boring. Your mind will probably already know what's going to happen all the time, and find plenty of negative labels it can paste onto the movie. On to the next one, the next thing to consume, it will tell you.
From the other perspective, this is one of the best movies if not the best ever created in the history of humanity, if you ask me. It gradually unfolds into showing how R. Junuh (Matt Damon) becomes more present in where he is, as he makes crucial steps in his mind and lets go of the baggage that remains inside of it. By following this process and relating to it ourselves, this movie is a wonderful tool for becoming more present and being masterful in whatever we happen to be doing in our own lives.
Bagger Vance (Will Smith) basically tells that the only thing that Junuh can do in order to win this game of golf is let go of his thoughts. The thoughts that tell him who he is or should be in relation to others, what he feels about the present 'situation', or what he needs to do in order to succeed. He learns that he needs to simply drop that self-centeredness, essentially that whining child inside, and let the moment that is already there take him over instead of his mind.
By doing so ourselves during the movie, we might become more present too as our thoughts fade to the background and as we become more aware of what's going on around us, instead of being absorbed only in what's going on inside the screen, behind the electronic window. We can get into that state where we feel our environment, where we drop all mental baggage, and where we can simply excel in what we do, whatever it is that apparently wants to be done through us. We can remember how it was before all the mental conditioning started somewhere in our childhood, and become present again. That's the real potential of this movie, the experience it can drag you into. Which is much better than a temporary pleasure, if you ask me.
And is that not the only thing to do in this game we call life? Is that not the ultimate teaching that the Bhagavad Gita and ultimately the mystical branches of all religions point to? In this movie, it's not Bagger Vance that awakens R. Junuh, it simply all happens pretty much independently of anything, in the true experiential recognition of itself. And that's really all we need to know, and the limit of all that we can really get from any type of immersion in media content.
I used to love this film a lot, but with time I have grown less fond of it. Still I regard it as a pretty good film, for a number of reasons.
First, it is very well made, and artistically shot with some highly memorable scenes, such as the one where Will Smith first appears out of the dark.
Second, it is very well directed, by Robert Redford.
Third and finally it has a smashing cast, with Will Smith and Matt Damon carrying it beautifully. Surprisingly, Charlize Theron, who I don't tend to like very much in general, is very good as Damon's love interest. Another surprising thing about this film is that the kid, J. Michael Moncrief, is fantastic in his part as young Hardy Greaves (kid actors, with the exceptions of Rupert Grint and Haley Joel Osment, tend to have very poor acting skills. Yes Daniel Radcliffe, I'm thinking of you). Also, look out for Jack Lemmon's (for some reason uncredited) role as the old Hardy Greaves (it was one of his final roles).
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a good watch, but it does get a bit monotonous after a while. Still, if you love golf, you're bound to enjoy it. I give a respectable 8/10.
After viewing this film, I am feeling really good about myself right about now. This movie was uplifting and inspiring. You will feel good about yourself after seeing it. And that is probably what Robert Redford has hoped would happen. Hehe. That little s***. This movie has the exact feel of those other feel-good movies that have come before it. Ex. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, OCTOBER SKY, etc. But, for some reason THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE seemed to be one of the better films of that genre. It almost made me cry, which very rarely ever happens. Matt Damon is a good actor. I hope to see more of him everywhere. If you are in the mood for a happy movie that will make you feel good about yourself, see this one.....5/5.
Oh, and it was good to see Jack Lemmon in this film. Especially since it is the last one he ever plays in.
Excellent film! Redford is getting better over the years, just like Clint Eastwood. Smith and Damon are perfect. The screenplay is brilliant, the soundtrack is very beaultiful, and the photography is wonderful. Great entertainment!
This adaptation of the book is well done in many ways. The casting of the supporting actors, who play Jones & Hagen, as well as the young Hardy, is top notch.
Cinematography, etc. is also very well executed.
I thought that Damon did a very credible job as Junuh, although his character is a Redford clone, right down to the haircut and whispery delivery of his lines, and Will Smith was surprisingly quite good as Bagger Vance. I must admit when I read the novel I had a hard time imagining Smith playing this part, but he carries it off with Morgan Freeman-esque style.
I completely disagree with every reviewer who enjoyed Charlize Theron's performance. Her character is little more than a footnote in the book, and in this film they greatly expanded her role to have a romantic subplot that frankly has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and bogs down the story. Ms. Theron is very beautiful, but her accent is TERRIBLE!!!! Watch her first few scenes with the town elders and tell me how you could ever believe that is a real Georgia accent.
Similarly, the young Hardy, who has a much more credible Southern accent, seems to lose it completely by the time he's grown up to become the narrator, Jack Lemmon. Little continuity errors like that drag this film down.
All in all, Bagger Vance is not a bad film, but it's not great either.
Best suited for golfers and fans of the Great Gatsby.
Redford continues his quest to be the Englebert Humperdink of film by creating uplifting Hallmark moments. The idea is to create a zen-like chicken soup metaphor, first fly fishing, then horses, now golf. The fishing film (`River Runs Through It') was far better, closer to noble, because it was more meditative and exploited some creative shots. This has some of that, which is to its credit, but its all buried under a pretty syrupy story. Of the story, there's not much positive to say.
The regional accents are particularly bad -- why couldn't they bring on a coach or at least get everyone to use the same fictional accent?
I think overly romanticizing a racial stereotype is just as demeaning and more pernicious than denigration. Just ask Native Americans. They'd be better off being portrayed as savages than as spiritual, environmental, peaceful, wise people. At least the former is an obvious trap. Redford should know better, and here is just capitalizing on the Tiger Woods rush.
Robert Redford is a good actor, but as a director I get the feeling he has never had a real human conversation in his life. Take "The Legend Of Bagger Vance".
It's about a Georgian named Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) who marches off to World War I one of America's greatest golfers but comes back without his swing. Coaching him back is his ex-lover Adele (Charlize Theron), a boy named Hardy (J. Michael Moncrief) who won't stop believing in him, and the title figure, a mysterious caddy (Will Smith) who tells Junuh that golf, like life, is "a game that can't be won, only played."
As with other Redford films, there is no real dialogue in "Bagger Vance". There are a lot of speeches, as various characters wait for their turn in close-up and for the music to swell before unloading some great profundity. "Your Dad stared adversity in the eye, and he beat it back with a broom" "This is my last 18 holes, Junuh, and I can't think of a better way to end it." "I like the way we danced." "It was only a moment ago". Those last two lines are each repeated, in case you missed them.
I get the feeling Redford treats his actors the way his directors treated him, telling Damon and Theron "Do that again, only blonder this time". Beauty is everywhere in "Bagger Vance", and the camera and lighting work here are exceptional, but there's never a feeling of real life creeping into the corners of the frame.
What's good in this film is Moncrief, the one real Southern accent in the cast who has fun and a disarmingly non-precocious way about him. Joel Gretsch showcases a convincingly authentic swing as golf legend Bobby Jones, one of Junuh's celebrated opponents in a big match at the end. Smith is enjoyable, too, making an otherwise annoyingly tricked-up character amusing at times with his sly, subtle delivery, about the only subtle thing in "Bagger Vance". It's a shame Redford couldn't have made Bagger's true otherworldly nature more of a mystery, but then Redford isn't one to let a point go by without beating you over the head with it.
Jack Lemmon narrates and appears in a cameo role as the adult Hardy. While obviously showing signs this would be his last film role, he makes his bad club swings as fun here as he did on TV at Pebble Beach. Redford's focus on actors does pay off with this old pro, and in some other cases. Everyone acquits themselves decently, anyway, with nice moments evenly distributed here and there among the chaff. The golf action, when it happens, is shot prettily, as is the Depression-era costumes and set design.
But everything moves so slow, especially when the game is underway. "You've got an answer for everything, Bagger," Junuh says, and so he does. Or else Adele's got an answer. Or Junuh's got an answer for Hardy. These aren't people but fortune cookies with pre-formed messages when you crack them open.
Meanwhile, you wonder why no one zaps Junuh with a penalty stroke for all his on-course ruminations. Never mind. It's not really golf they're playing. It sure looks pretty, though, and that's the point.
Every so often I have to put this film on to get a fix. I do that with films that have an undefinable something which gets under your skin. I'm not a baseball fan but I do the same thing with "The Natural." So why am I hooked on this picture? It's certainly not golf. I like the idea of it but I don't play it. I'm not into Zen, or partial to "angel" movies. Yet all of these ingredients are thrown into the hopper and worked over, by what I've come to realize is a brilliant director, and out comes a masterfully told story. I re-watch the movie, not sure what birdies or eagles are, just to daydream that if I followed Bagger's advice I too good be a great player. I watch it for Michael Ballhous's poetic cinematography. Or for the great 30's costumes draped on a ravishing Charlize Theron. Or for the fantastic performances from Charlize, Matt Damon, Will Smith especially the boy explaining why he loves the game so much. Then when I think I'm cured, I have to watch it again for Rachel Portman's incredible score which cements the other-worldliness of this story so beautifully. I guess if I looked hard I could find flaws, but I don't want to. Sometimes it's better not to analyze things that seem in perfect balance without disturbing that balance. I guess time will cure me. I hope it's not too soon.
I never thought much of Robert Redford as an actor --he's fun as an actor, and he plays Redford well, and that's about it-- but he is one of our most brilliant and artistic directors. Like all of Redford's films, this one is visually beautiful. Like some of Redford's best films this one is also about life and death --old age and/or the coming of death are part of the resolutions of "The Milagro Beanfield War" and "A River Runs Through It. This is an unabashedly emotional and sentimental film, and that's great. No one does that better than Redford, without being Hollywoodish --mawkish and maudlin-- about it.
To start off, I have NEVER written a review before. This movie, however, was honestly SO much more than I expected I could not help but write one -- and I truly believe this is a movie everyone should see. This movie is inspiring and speaks millions to overcoming the adversities of life. Just as golf is a game, so is life -- to some extent -- and cannot be won, but merely played.
People that didn't like this movie obviously didn't think deep enough to realize how symbolic it truly is. Having had some rough patches in life myself this movie spoke deeply to me as I'm sure it will to many who see it. Don't pass on this movie by its lower rating. I'm generally a person who only watches movies 7 and up, but I am so glad I chose to watch this.
I RARELY give movies a 10/10. I'm telling you though -- this movie deserves it.
This is a movie I very much like, and last evening as I was watching it for maybe the 4th time I tried to focus on why it wasn't more popular. I think what it comes down to is that there's an awfully lot of time in the movie spent on the course...so if you're not a golfer or not "into" golf, that might bore you. And I tried to compare that in my mind with films about other sports, and it seems to me there is much more time spent on the links here, than might be spent on the diamond for most baseball films or on the field for most football films.
Having said that, there are few things I would complain about regarding this film...but then again, I like gold. It does seem to me that some hint of Bagger in the climactic WWI scenes would have helped tie the film together. And visually realizing at the end of the film that Bagger has not aged, even though it is 60 years later would have been helpful...again to tie the beginning and end of the film together.
In terms of performances here, I was impressed, and here's why: yes, we can get a sense of whether someone is a truly good actor in an action pic, but what can they do in a serious film? And, with the exception of "Six Degrees Of Separation" (in which he had a supporting role), this was Will Smith's first serious film...and he comported himself very well. Matt Damon had less to prove here, having been in a number of serious films, but he also does very well here in a role where in various scenes he has to be very up or very down...and he balances it all pretty well. Similarly Charlize Theron continued her series of fine performances here...certainly one of our most stunningly beautiful actresses. Bruce McGill as Walter Hagen is wonderful, and he is a supporting actor I have come to have a great deal of respect for. Joel Gretsch is equally good as Bobby Jones, and I'm surprised we don't see him in more feature films, although he is quite active in television. J. Michael Moncrief as the young Hardy Greaves...well, I had mixed feelings here...a little uneven...but pretty good. And of course, it was nice to see an ailing (both in the film and in real life) Jack Lemmon. Lane Smith a newspaper man was also a welcome addition to the film, although his role was not overly substantial here.
My guess is that if you really "get" the psyche of golf, you'll love this movie. If you don't, there may be parts that bore you, but you can still enjoy some very fine performances. But make no mistake...this is a "serious" film.
This movie is the best of the best. Many will disagree but for me, its my favorite movie of all time behind the dark knight and the lord of the rings trilogy. This movie grasps the essence of film making as an art form. In other words, great and beautiful cinematography.
When people first judge this movie they will probably see it as just your normal sports movie and in this case its golf. I am a golfer but you can absolutely hate golf and still enjoy this movie. Being a golfer really only helps with the technicalities of the sport, which the movie minimally shows.
The movie is just one big metaphor for someone who is need of faith. In this movie that person is Junah, played by Matt Damon (whos performance is excellent), Junah was one of the highest praised upcoming golfers in the 1920s but after serving in WWI and becoming a war hero, he suffers from memories of battle and has lost his faith in just about anything from his old girlfriend, Adele, played by Charlize Theron (another great performance), his faith in talents, and especially his faith in life, which the movie centers on.
Just when Junah's faith is nearly gone for good while horribly swing golf balls in his backyard, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, (greatest actor today and a legendary performance), comes out of nowhere, like an angel(WINK WINK) and immediately tries helping Junah.
This movie is just one big metaphor of an angel who is disguised as a golf caddy and is uplifting the faith of a person in need. Golf is just the format or stage they use to translate this message in a different way.
You know Bagger is an angel because he never receives nearly any of the rewards he should receive after all the help he has given Junah, his spiritually perfect advice (like an angels would be), and at the end there is a clear give away when Hardy(the little boy, the narrator, and the old man in the beginning and end of the film) dies from a heart attack on the golf course and wakes up in heaven(which is still the golf course he was playing on) to see Bagger waving to him in his ageless form. This is also showing that the movie suggest heaven isn't this big epic white scenery of clouds but instead a place that you are the most happy.
I'm not a very religious person but this movie is a religious/spiritual/life experience that is great in all areas from storyline, script,acting, directing, and cinematography. You will be moved after watching this.
So for the people who haven't seen it....watch it. For the people who have but didn't realize the real story behind it...watch it again and my mind blown....and for the people who have watched it and did get the memo....watch it again and still be blown away and entertained like I am every time.
Where "Seabiscuit" marked the return of the intelligent and artistic sports picture, "Legend Of Bagger Vance" directed by Robert Redford does not.
This is a very confused Motion Picture. The first reel is taken up with short expletory scenes and flashbacks all ending with the familiar fade to black. This constant use of the fade out halted any narrative and kept the film firmly in the stalls for what seemed an age.
It is impossible to cut around a poor leading performance as you might do a bad piece of Production Design. The young boy at the heart of the film transmitted none of the emotion or crisis he supposed to be was facing. He couldn't do this because he was a bad actor and being badly directed.
Matt Damon and Charlize Theron had no sexual chemistry. Not for one moment did I believe that they were in love or ever had been. Matt Damon was also mis-cast. Joel Gretsch seemed the more likely casting choice for the lead. As for Will Smith, his underwritten part and performance can only be described as poor.
Redford's direction as a whole was terrible. Why talk about the horrors of war and then recreate them in such an amateurish way? Why do we need 5 shots of Will Smith walking & dancing into the sunset?
The music by Rachel Portman seemed to be a reworking of her "The Joy Luck Club" score and was awash with syrupy strings and tinkling piano. Her unsubtle music pointed directly at how the audience "should" feel at each scene and so as usual with all her uninspired scores the music became a dirge of sentimentality and confusion.
On the extras Redford explains that he is an ecologist and this film had interested him because it was about nature. Does Redford not know that golf courses are responsible for untold damage to wild life and nature preserves? Golf is not eco-friendly, Robert!
There were great philosophical and spiritual thoughts and meanings in the book. The Bagger Vance character in the book was a Christ-Like/Buddha figure, helping Junuh overcome the obstacles in his life. The movie turned the story into Chevy Chase saying "Be the Ball" in Caddyshack. I love golf, I thought this movie was a bore.
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs
Having directed Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It,Robert Redford directs Matt Damon in The Legend Of Bagger Vance,a sentimental,warm hearted tale with a stern hint of life's misapprehensions at it's core.Indeed it is very pleasant,with some beautiful cinematography and engaging ,thoughtful performances.However,it gets kind of long and drawn out towards the end,and the end outcome is pretty obvious if you think about it.Still,Will Smith carries on from Enemy Of The State in proving he's got versatility as an actor aside from comedy films,in a cliched but thoughtfully pinned role as the mystical caddy arriving to aid Damon's struggling former golfer.Charlize Theron is also stunningly beautiful in her role,at one scene revealing herself in sexy lengeraie which should set pulses of the male viewer's running.The film is interestingly told from the perspective of an aged golfer suffering a heart attack on the golf coarse at the opening of the film,reliving his experiences as a 10 year old boy at the time the film is set.A sweeping score accompanies the proceedings ,nicely rounding off the film's whole.A tee in one,or whatever.***and a half.
It would probably make a big difference if the viewer/reviewer played and appreciated golf and in fact read the book. If neither is true, I suspect that the movie would have been marginal. In my case, both apply, and I enjoyed the movie, even with it's drawbacks, the biggest of which was including Ms. Theron's character in the movie at all, let alone with a major role. It was completely contrived, tantamount to inserting GI Jane into Saving Private Ryan, and with a questionable result. But with Redford, Hollywood and the need for attracting financing and an attempt at wider audience appeal, so be it. For example, ask any golfer how a public berating/hissy fit on the back nine of a major tournament, as occurred in the movie (rest assured, not in the book) would be received. But the movie and the casting of Mr. Smith and the golfers worked OK for me, except for the ending, which was unsatisfying compared to what Pressfield accomplished in the original work. As for Bruce McGill, a long way from "D-Day" in Animal House.