The Legend of Bagger Vance

"Excellent"

The Legend of Bagger Vance Review


Robert Redford's singular devotion to American mythology continues in The Legend of Bagger Vance, the story of a golfer who's lost his swing and the caddy who brings it back to him. "Inside each and every one of us," says Vance (Smith), "is our one true, authentic swing." It's a metaphor intended to apply to all walks of life, on the fairway or otherwise. If oversweet metaphors like this are your bag, then you're really going to like Bagger Vance.

The story opens in the present with an aged Hardy Greaves (Jack Lemmon) suffering a heart attack on a golf course. As he lies quietly smiling to himself, he muses on the frequency of his cardiovascular failures and his love of the game of golf, which meanders into a quixotic narration on the career of Rannulph Junuh (Damon). Soon the narrative fades to the past and we see Junuh at the height of his career, in the company of the enchanting Adele Invergordon (played by Charlize Theron of The Devil's Advocate fame; who, by the way, happens to represent the purest embodiment of good, wholesome sex that the film industry has to offer).

Junuh is the greatest golfer in Savannah, Georgia, Miss Invergordon is his true love, and they are about as privileged as anyone in the South until Junuh ships off to serve his country in World War I, whereupon his entire platoon is slaughtered in the grand history of Saving Private Ryan. Returning home he finds himself a mere shell of his former self and--tragedy of tragedies--he has lost his golf swing. This is about the dumbest point in the entire film, the point at which I nearly wrote the whole thing off. There is absolutely nothing convincing about Junuh's wartime horrors. Damon's portrayal of shock at the sight of his slain comrades is not unlike his appearance of dismay at losing his MIT girlfriend in Good Will Hunting. Fortunately, like any good professional, I persevered.

Skipping ahead a few years, to the Great Depression, Miss Invergordon has inherited her father's golf course and, determined to fend off bankruptcy, throws a high profile golf tournament. How exactly this is going to work is not quite explained and, presumably, no one in town can afford to pay admission, and she's giving away ten grand to the winner, but anyway.... The two greatest golfers of the day are coming to play and Savannah will be represented by none other than the washed up and unshaven Rannulph Junuh.

Enter Bagger Vance. Will Smith is predictably likable and witty as the colloquially wise vagabond shaman who saves the day--and the story--from otherwise certain grief. The Bagger Vance character is not a new archetype for Hollywood, but Smith's delivery of Vance's black Southern dialect manages to convey an element often missed in such film portrayals. Where other stereotyped victims of segregation appear merely ignorant or uneducated, we find a wit and, more importantly, a will in Bagger's voice. It's a subversion of language intrinsic to African American culture, born of wisdom and cunning in the face of adversity. Will Smith's ability to carry this to the surface lends wondrously to our imagination of his character, and forges a heightened standard for future actors. Something in Smith's delivery is so conducive to the suspension of disbelief as to render all things permissible, and it took only a few scenes to reel this critic in.

In the end, Bagger Vance is a strong, memorable film, filled with rich dialogue and vital camera work. Though Redford seems to have fallen back too heavily upon his overused and rambling A River Runs Through It narrative style, the strength of the underlying story carries it off. Better directorial focus might have made for a hole-in-one, but as it stands, this movie's a solid birdie.

(left to right) Smith, golf club, Damon.



The Legend of Bagger Vance

Facts and Figures

Run time: 126 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd November 2000

Box Office USA: $30.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $39.5M

Budget: $80M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: Wildwood Enterprises, Allied Filmmakers, DreamWorks Pictures, 20th Century Fox

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 74

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Walter Hagen, as Bobby Jones, J. Michael Moncrief as Hardy Greaves, Wilbur Fitzgerald as Roy, as Aaron, as Idalyn Greaves, as Bagger Vance, as Adele Invergordon, as Rannulph Junuh

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Advertisement
Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.