Fearing that he is getting too old to compete, Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) gears up for his last stint at Wimbledon. And thus begins “Wimbledon,” a film about a quest not only for victory, but for love as well. While flawed in many respects, “Wimbledon” is an enjoyable film that captures some genuine emotion on screen.
Having never reached his full tennis potential and growing older every day, Peter lets his confidence gradually slip away. When he meets Lizzie (Kirsten Dunst), she is at the start of her tennis career. Young and aggressive, she represents everything that Peter has left behind. It is only after the two begin dating that Peter is able to bring himself out of his tennis rut and onto center court.
Director Richard Loncraine takes some chances with “Wimbledon” in an effort to rise above the typical romantic comedy. He avoids many of the conventional filming techniques and shoots the film as if the material is far more important than it actually is. He combines interesting shots with some minor special effects to develop his film into something that is cinematically superior to other modern-day romantic comedies.
The performances are wonderful, especially Bettany’s (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Dogville”). While Dunst (“Spiderman,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) is convincing and reliable, as usual, Bettany is able to carry the film, giving it a sense of reality to which the audience can relate. He is at once assured and frightened, and it is this mix of complex emotions that makes his character realistic. Bettany succeeds in carrying out his character’s intentions perfectly.
Unfortunately, the screenplay is not on the same level as the other elements of the film. Predictable and often inconsistent, the film barely makes it as a romance. Oddly enough, it succeeds much better as a sports film because it delves into the mindset of athletes. It is well researched and tennis fans will definitely enjoy the fast-paced matches. So while the film may provide some lessons in tennis, there is very little to gain from it in the love department.
The film is basically well-made but ultimately light-weight. While “Wimbledon” may entertain many while they are watching it, it will resonate with very few afterwards. The film is fun to watch, and at times even exciting. It succeeds in being an entertaining film, but it fails to reach the goals it sets for itself. Still, it is a movie that I would recommend. If you’re hungry for excellent cinema, this is clearly not the film to see. But, if you just feel like a light snack, check out “Wimbledon” and you won’t be disappointed.