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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Borg vs McEnroe


Saw this movie recently in a theater in Barcelona.  Did this even make it to theaters in the US?  It's from 2017 but I do not recall ever having seen it showing in theaters.  Perhaps it had very limited distribution.

Wasn't hard to tell that this movie was written by a Swede—Ronnie Sandahl.  A more appropriate title would have been; “Ode to Borg, and Recalling His Intense Competition with McEnroe in'80, in Which He (Borg, that is) Triumphed”.  

The premise that it's a biopic about the two tennis stars is utterly false.  In this movie, the screenwriter dedicated a good 20+ minutes more to examining Bork's personal life, his struggles with in childhood years with tennis, the other students, and his coach, including private talks where Bork confides his tennis ambitions to his couch, as well as numerous scenes of him talking in a hotel room with his fiancée.

As for McEnroe, we learn that he sees a psychologist (from a twelve second scene), that he seems to be an only child and his parents expect him to be the crema (from two one-minute scenes), and that as a boy he liked to hit the tennis ball around (we know this from a scene where he's doing this). 

--Oh, and it's not even TRUE that he's an only child! The director must have thought his two siblings were superfluous and didn't include either. 

I don't know how such a disingenuous conceit got green lit. Nowhere along the way did someone say “hm, now does McEnroe deserve the same critique you're giving Bork?”  (I guess in response I should say “you cannot be serious!”)

Ok, getting that out of the way, it was a pretty good movie.  The actors who play Bork (Sverrir Gudnason) and McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) were great.  LaBeouf doesn't deserve the reputation he's has from acting in so many Michael Bay movies.  

And it was an interesting story.  The two of them playing together at Wimbledon in 1980 is a story worth retelling.  A much more exciting match than the match between Billie Jean king and Bobbie Riggs, recently depicted in Battle of the Sexes.  

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