This Sporting Life

  • Film
  • Drama
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Opinions of Lindsay Anderson’s intense adaptation of David Storey’s prize-winning novel have fluctuated over the years. Deemed too glum on its release in 1963, it was later accepted as an important addition to the canon due to its employment of nimble, jazzy editing, a non-linear structure and an ambient, avant-garde score.

Now it feels more like a museum piece, something to admire as an example of robust, heart-on-sleeve craftsmanship, packed with hulking emotional cues – care of Richard Harris’s fierce, untethered performance as solipsistic man’s man Frank Machin – that do little to cater for those looking for subtleties beneath the grubby, sweaty anguish on screen. The story follows ex-miner Frank as he rises up the ranks of a local rugby team, the brutality of the sport acting as a metaphor for his violent anti-social tendencies and his undying love for his widowed landlady, Margaret (Rachel Roberts – superb). Like Frank, the film is raw and confident, but it’s a little shallow, too.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday June 5 2009
Duration: 134 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lindsay Anderson
Screenwriter: David Storey
Cast: Richard Harris
Rachel Roberts
Alan Badel
William Hartnell
Colin Blakely
Vanda Godsell
Arthur Lowe
Glenda Jackson
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