Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from "gentlemanly" English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father's disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol -- Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As you know "The Greatest Game Ever Played" is about golf. I used to snicker at the over-dramatic title, but through great visual display credited to director Bill Paxton (better known for his acting in Twister and hilarious supporting roles in Aliens and True Lies) we find out that this has much more meaning than a game.
Though the movie is about golf, it seems as though the sport is just the framework for what is really going on. What is really going on is a story of individuals being told they can't fulfill their dreams, be it age or social status. A conflict between a son's wishes and a father's demands. An English golf legend looking to bring the title home with the country breathing down his neck.
Shia LaBeouf (Even Stevens) plays Francis Ouimet, a caddy with a God-given talent who was never permitted to play golf in the first place. Despite the resentment of the upper class "gentlemen," it was undeniable that Francis had a gift. What posed a greater threat was the discouragement of his father played by Elias Koteas (Sugartime, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) who felt that playing a mere game will never improve their poor living conditions. With the continued support of his mother, Francis eventually comes face to face with his idol, the golf legend Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane).
More impressive than the game itself, was the movie's cinematic achievement. This proved that storytelling is successful through pure cinema. The entire movie could've been told without dialog. There are scenes in the movie that build strong suspense and powerful emotion with only pictures. In one particular scene, Francis Ouimet swings and the entire crowd turn their heads to watch the ball fly into the distance, all but the face of Harry Vardon looking intensely at Ouimet without a flinch. The ways in which the golfers visualize the course offer more aesthetic enjoyment.
A pleasant supporting cast completes the whole. Peyton List plays the love interest and looks worth playing for, and Josh Flitter plays a lovable caddy that keeps Ouimet focused as the pressure bogs him down. Golf fan or not, you'll appreciate the film for its beauty and its reminder that cinema can be a great medium to tell any story.
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