The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
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A pleasant if inconsequential film.
I like golf and I liked this movie.
The Legend of Bagger Vance almost manages to make be believe golf is awesome. It certainly does better than that one time I played an 18-hole with the Vice-Prime Minister (ok, he wasn't VPM then). It's a nice outdoor activity, but I never considered it much of a sport. Robert Redford's lush film both captures the outdoorsy-ness of it and addresses my biases about a golf's "athleticism". It's got a fine cast: Damon is his usual very good; I like Charlize's take-charge role; Jack Lemmon's narration makes me want to like the film more; and at the center of it is a zen master golfer Will Smith, who gives a strong performance as some echo of God. Of course, everybody is trying to out-folksy everyone else, so your mileage on this idealized, pastoral vision of the Deep South may vary. Ultimately, it's not the smoothed over racial politics that do the film in for me, it's that it's about too many things, and I'm afraid its contention that golf equals life comes off as pretentious mumbo-jumbo as people deal with the Great Depression, PTSD, love lost, being ashamed of one's father, etc. in golf terms. Or maybe not in golf terms. Some good zen lines here and there, well delivered by Smith, but I kept thinking, really? Golf?
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