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Time Out saysThe poster for ‘Wimbledon’ has Kirsten Dunst brandishing a tennis racket sideways so that at first glance it looks more like a sword: a tacit admission, surely, that tennis is hardly a subject to set the pulse racing? This, however, is Working Title-land, and tennis, of course, is one of those things that Americans like us to do – as well as driving open-top sports cars past the Houses of Parliament, which star tennis player Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) does with surprising regularity in this tale of love across the tennis net.
The game is simple. Two tennis players –Dunst and Bettany – meet over the hallowed lawns of SW19 one summer. Very soon it’s love all; but Dunst’s father/manager (Sam Neill) is quick to pour water on their dalliance, even though Bettany serves up lashings of British charm to woo both Dunst and audiences. In the meantime, both have trophies to fight for: cue tennis scenes that have at least some spark. It’s hardly nail-biting, but the sport works.
Much has been made of the film’s making, but it’s hardly notable verité. Yes, this was actually, really filmed at the gen-u-wine Wimbledon. Yes, the crowds are kosher. Yes, there’s a cameo from John McEnroe. And, no, they didn’t use real balls. They added them later.
All in all, it’s rather pleasant, but nothing else. Dunst and especially Bettany make for good romantic leads (although Bettany flips between Hugh Grant and Michael Caine ). But where are the gags? And it could do without the thinly sketched sub-plots involving Peter Colt’s cheeky younger brother (James McAvoy) and warring Home Counties parents. A fairly charming romantic comedy – minus the comedy.
Fri Sep 24 2004