A Single Man & Invictus

In A Single Man, George (Colin Firth) wakes up in bed, his hand dipped in a puddle of spilled ink. He had just dreamt about his lover's fatal car accident, picturing himself approaching the overturned automobile, snow crunching underfoot, the glassy-eyed Jim laying motionless in the snow. George leans over to kiss the corpse and when he awakens, the kiss has left its mark. Imagining that his finger was tracing a pool of blood rather than ink, Jim absentmindedly brings his hand to his mouth and smears a bit of black ink across his lips. It's a physical manifestation of his grief, an evocative one, but resolutely external. It's indicative of the approach the overall film will take to George's suffering, but unfortunately not in terms of its suggestiveness (it is effective) but rather because its ritualistic, exterior quality.

Invictus, Clint Eastwood's tale of post-apartheid South Africa's momentary unity with the success of the national rugby team, could be described many ways: slight, obvious, familiar, underwhelming. Despite running well over two hours, it's not very weighty and even as characters give too much time for exposition the movie can be difficult to follow (and not just for those unfamiliar with rugby or the Afrikaaner accent). It's another entry into that disreputable genre, the feel-good true-life sports film, yet lacking in many of the tropes of that genre - we don't really get to know the team members, the games themselves (except for the last one) fly by in a few quick montages, and the main character is not even an athlete himself. Invictus sometimes gives the impression of a just-add-water "Instant Genre Film" mix in which someone forgot to add the water.

Did I mention that I liked it?

No comments: