Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, Sam Neill, Jon Favreau, Austin Nichols, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Director: Richard Loncraine
Writer: Adam Brooks and Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rated: M low level coarse language, sexual references
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Nothing Beats Playing On Grass
Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is an unlucky guy, scoring "love" both professionally and personally. Seeded near the bottom of the world tennis ranks, he manages to score a wild card, allowing him to play in the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. There, he meets and falls in love with American Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst). Fueled by a mixture of his newfound luck, love and on-court prowess, Peter works his way up the ranks of the tournament players and actually stands a chance of fulfilling his lifelong dream of winning the men's singles title - if his luck can just hold out.
'Wimbledon' is a boy-meets-girl romantic comedy based around tennis. This might seem a bit obvious because of the title, but the producers had to get the permission of The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club to film during the 2003 Wimbledon tennis championships before making such a movie, something that isn't handed out to just anyone.
Peter Colt is a fading tennis pro, using a wild card entry in the men's singles to retire from the game of tennis, he has resigned himself to his fate and he often narrates his thoughts and feelings in voiceover, trying to help us understand the psyche of a tennis player. He mistakenly meets Lizzie Bradbury who is an up and coming American tennis queen with the usual manager/keeper father, Dennis, who isn't too overbearing, just looking after his darling queen bee. Paul and Lizzie click instantly but know that there is more than the love in their hearts that is at stake - there is their other love for tennis that may be jeopardised by starting a romance whilst involved in the biggest tennis tournament in the world. Peter's luck in the tournament rises, whilst Lizzie falters.
There is nothing in 'Wimbledon' that is unexpected - you can predict the ending right from the start but that's not to say there isn't anything here to stop you from instantly leaving the cinema. Filming the tennis matches did require some technical help including using 1987 Wimbledon Champion, Pat Cash, as tennis consultant. Bettany and Dunst do actually play their tennis matches so there is a degree of authenticity, with Paul's final being played on the real centre court. Add John McEnroe and Chris Evert as commentators and these may well have been real matches. Trouble is we know they aren't and so the film ends up being an average played by the numbers romance. At least Bettany and Dunst looked well together and were plausible in their roles, with a few other side characters to round it all out and it's game over.
Rating : C