Tonight I saw Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.
At the start of the film, Nelson Mandela (Freeman) is just being released from prison and assuming his role as the South African President.
He knows that as he forgives a nation that imprisoned him, he also needs to earn the respect and support of the very people he's forgiving and unify South Africa. Instead of going the traditional route of politics (or not even trying at all), he cleverly goes about it through sport: the traditionally white sport of rugby.
Enter Francois Pienaar (Damon), the Afrikaner rugby captain of the not-so-successful Sprinbok team. He seems like a nice enough guy, but obviously comes from privilege and perhaps is not yet enlightened to Mandela's ability to lead.
Mandela invites him for tea and an instant mutual respect is born—with desirable results for both parties.
The President infuses the captain with the will and inspiration to create a winning team; in doing so the captain begins to build something that all South Africans can agree on. And the rest is somewhat predictable (especially if you know your South African history).
So is the movie good? Sure. Morgan Freeman (who truly resembles Mandela) is always a pleasure to watch and Matt Damon impresses me more and more with every role. In this one, he seems comfortable in the pretty-boy skin, yet still stretches with an African accent.
There are moments of pause that probably wouldn't be there if Clint Eastwood hadn't directed it, but there are also sentimental seconds that last just long enough to bring a tear. Really, a fine balance.
I wish I understood rugby more because the game scenes are aplenty, but I still enjoyed the story nonetheless.
It's just one tiny piece of Mandela's incredible rise to power, and it made me want to see more.