Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Borg McEnroe Film Review

Catching up with movies last week I saw Borg vs McEnroe directed by Janus Metz, and the opener for this month's Toronto Film Festival. A very entertaining look at the rivalry of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, and culminating in the epic five set Wimbledon final in 1980. I was too young to remember the actual rivalry and final so it was fascinating. And I enjoyed the period Gucci style fashion. It felt quite at home with today's Alessandro Michele/Wes Anderson designs.

Sverrir Gudnason is the OCD like Bjorn Borg, a quiet and calm study of the great man. And Shia LaBeouf impressive as the explosive superbrat McEnroe who stands between Borg, and his 5th Wimbledon title.

It was interesting watching the manner in which they prepared for their matches, compared to today's sportsmen and women, and their teams. McEnroe was in a hotel room alone with his matches written on the wall and crossing off both his and Borgs as they procede through the rounds. And other Wimbledon stars drinking and dancing the night away at London's clubs. I just cannot see either happening now. Of course Borg was in bed early with his fiancee and John only went out to be sociable it appeared.

But that's long in the future and we explore Borg's earlier life, played by son Leo Borg, and how he loses his temper when he loses, so his new coach Lennart Bergelin, played by Stellan Skarsgård, tells him he can only play again if he never loses his temper. The start of the myth of the Iceman and Borg's control. Compared to McEnroe's hothead. We are shown glimpses of McEnroe's childhood and to be honest it's a wonder he grew up so level headed with his WASP background. But his father was always there for him when he was playing, however disappointed he looked.

But its Borg's serve and it was interesting when trying to escape fans back home in Monaco he dips in for a coffee. The barman doesn't recognise him so in a scene reminiscent of the Stella Artois advert he has to do some manual work to pay for the drink. A nice scene of normality in a whirlwind life.

And the nicest thing was that their intense rivalry at the time softened into a true friendship. An impressive movie and it was lovely to hear Stellan Skarsgård speak in his native tongue. Of course if you know the score there wouldn't be much mystery in the tennis match, but I felt that Janus Metz directed something intimate and special about the two men.

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