December 23, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II & IV • Page 21 ‘Invictus’ covers events at birth of a new South Africa by Dennis Seuling Clint Eastwood’s latest effort, “Invictus,” takes place in South Africa shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, where he spent 27 years. When Mandela takes office as president in the mid-1990s, the nation is deeply divided. The black population hopes for payback for all the years of apartheid. The white population fears they will incur the wrath of a government bent on revenge. Mandela knows the path to a unified nation is reconciliation. The divisiveness of the country is reflected in its national pastime: rugby. The Springboks, the national, whites-only team, have a pitiful record. Attendance at their games is down. Mandela sees rugby as a way to begin unifying the people. He summons the captain of the Springboks, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), and explains that if the entire nation can be inspired by the team, it will be a first step in joining the people in a common cause. From this point, much of the film is devoted to on-field action. As the Springboks advance, everyone seems to be plugging for them to win the World Cup. “Invictus” has problems, and they are not the usual ones. Performances are very good, the story is based on actual events, the film focuses on a forward-thinking leader and his ability to inspire others, and it is effectively directed. What, then, is the difficulty? First, the film lacks dramatic peaks. Director Eastwood focuses on a fairly small number of characters, who smile and look proud. Mandela is shown globe-hopping to encourage foreign investment in South Africa, but his main concern seems to be rugby. This leaves one wondering when Mandela had time to deal with other matters of state. Another difficulty is the relative unfamiliarity of the game of rugby to American audiences. The viewer can get the gist of the game, but cannot get totally involved, as he or she should. Also, there is so much rugby footage that the movie becomes a hybrid of political history and sports who provide star power and a first-class director, but comes to nothing more than a competent effort. Some movies read better in script than they translate to screen. “Invictus” may be one of them. Rated PG-13 for a bit of strong language, it recounts an interesting event at the birth of a new South Africa. As a historical story, it is fine. As a complete entertainment experience, it falls short. State Line Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman, left) greets Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), The Best Got Better! 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 flick with the balance far too skewed to sports. Freeman is so good as Mandela, it would have been great to see more scenes with him as leader of a nation than as a sports fan. Freeman has a gentle, calm quality that characterizes most of his screen roles. His age suggests wisdom, and his face is the model of tranquility amid chaos. He is a great choice for Mandela. Damon has done his homework and speaks with such a heavy Afrikaans accent that he is often unintelligible. Blonde and muscular, he has the look of a rugby player but never conveys the qualities that allow him to convince his team to learn the words of the new national anthem or take part in workshops in ghetto areas. The viewer gets the idea that Mandela has inspired him to set a standard, but Damon never shows how he inspires his teammates. Despite its impressive filmmaker credentials, “Invictus” relies on lots of sports-movie clichés. “Invictus” is a movie you want to love. It has two actors Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino $ 00 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 1 $ 00 VT On $20.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 2 VT ��������� ������� ���������� �������� ��������������������������������������������� Sunday & Monday NFL Ticket on Direct TV HAPPY HOUR ������ ������������ �������������������������� ������������ ���������� Football Menu & Bar Specials Regular Menu also available ������������������������������������ ����������������������� ������������������������� ����������������������� ���������� ���������� LIVE BAND ������������������������ ��������������������������� ������� �������������� �������������� ��������������������� ���������������� ������������������������ ����������� ��������������������������� �������������� ����������������� � �� �������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������