WIMBLEDON (Richard Loncraine, 2004)
In WIMBLEDON Paul Bettany is pro tennis player Peter Colt, a once highly ranked competitor whose best days are behind him. He hopes to advance a round or two at Wimbledon before retiring. Then he meets rising American tennis star Lizzie Bradury, played by Kirsten Dunst. Sparks fly between them, and soon Peter is playing the best he has in years.
WIMBLEDON succeeds at being an agreeable sports romance. Much of it is conventional, but there’s a reason why film after film follows the formula. It works. Bettany and Dunst make a cute couple that is as fiercely competitive in their love lives as they are on the court. Yet WIMBLEDON strikes me as being Peter’s story. How does an athlete who is very good at what he does deal with falling short of greatness? How does his mind work as he confronts the immediate challenge of playing tennis while personal issues spin through his head? WIMBLEDON explores these competition details enough to complement the light comedy. The film may not amount to much more than the cinematic equivalent of strawberries and cream, but sometimes that hits the spot.
(Review first aired on the September 28, 2004 NOW PLAYING)