4/5. Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon
When word reached South Africa that Clint Eastwood was making a movie about the 1995 World Cup there were groans around braais up and down the country.
Would Morgan Freeman be able to convey Nelson Mandela’s gravitas? Could little Matt Damon look like rugby giant Francois Pienaar? Would the South African accent be butchered again?
Fortunately Eastwood gets almost everything spot on, and does justice to a crucial period in the Rainbow Nation’s history.
The director shines the spotlight on SA shortly after Mandela is released from prison, with black and white residents eyeing each other suspiciously.
Madiba sees the World Cup as an opportunity to unite the nation, and turns to Springbok captain Pienaar to deliver the goods.
Eastwood handles the build-up to the World Cup beautifully, capturing the apprehension and hope in the country at the time.
Freeman, while occasionally losing his accent, does a fine job as Mandela, while Damon is excellent as Pienaar.
Those who know their rugby will spot some inaccuracies when it comes to the on-field action, but ultimately this is a compelling story, well told.
Good for: Nostalgic South Africans.
Words: Pierre de Villiers