Borg Vs McEnroe

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kevinknapman
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Borg Vs McEnroe

#1 Post by kevinknapman » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:24 am

Pleasantly surprised by Borg Vs McEnroe (or Borg McEnroe) which I saw tonight, fittingly, at the Odeon Wimbledon.

A solid sports movie that wisely keeps the tennis action limited until the famous 1980 Wimbledon final at the end.

Given the largely Scandinavian creative crew behind the film, it's perhaps unsurprising that the film chooses to focus on Bjorn Borg's transformation from volatile junior player (played, in a nice touch, by Borg's son Leo, an impressive tennis player in his own right) to the outwardly calm, privately doubtful and ritual obsessed champion.
Impressively played by Sverrir Gudnason, Borg's story may dominate but Shia LaBoeuf more than holds his own with his portrayal of McEnroe. It's the kind of role that, along with the recent American Honey, shows how good an actor he can be. Stellan Skarsgard and Tuva Novotny are also excellent as Borg's coach Lennart Bergelin and soon to be wife Mariana Simionescu respectively.

Former documentary filmmaker Janus Metz (his Danish soldiers in Helmand Province doc Armadillo is well worth a look) and screenwriter Ronnie Sandahl do a fine job juggling the scenes of the tense build up to the final and the youthful flashbacks, plus it looks fantastic thanks to cinematographer Niels Thastum (whose excellent work on Danish werewolf movie When Animals Dream is also worth checking out).

Successful and convincing sports films are tricky to pull off, but Borg Vs McEnroe is a worthy addition to the genre.
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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#2 Post by The Sparrow » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:44 am

I was a little disappointed that the film focuses more on Borg but this does mean we find out a lot of info about him as a boy and the man.
Sverrir Gudnason has a remarkable resemblance to Borg as did Robert Emms as Vitas Gerulaitis and Tuva Novotny as the Rumanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu who went on to marry Borg.
I also spotted a passable Illie Nastase but I'm afraid that the actor playing Jimmy Connors looked nothing like him. Shia LaBeouf embraces McEnroe's temperament and mannerisms and definitely has Mac's rants off to a t.

The tennis scenes were very exciting and they recreated the tension of the actual match.

It helps if you're a tennis fan but even if not I think people will still enjoy this film given how much we learn.

One thing I'm unsure of is if it was filmed in Wimbledon? The location info says London.
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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#3 Post by raj101 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:11 am

a bit dull really apart from the endgame. A little bit more effort from the cast to learn to play tennis would have made it more realistic, but instead we get obvious body doubles at distance and facial closeups that become pointless after a while. Freaking lazy actors, do some bloomin work for your p*y. Shia doesnt resemble skinny john Mac at all nor really come across well as him, but the other guy was a perfect match for borg - though hes a much easier role to play, he barely speaks!

At least it gives you some depth into their competitive, vicious characters. Wonder how the real John Mac will take him being depicted as a right Cheatopova.

Its a very bland, bare bones plot, that really needed beefing up, but little effort was made to do so or join that which was there into a flowing, powerful story.

2.5 stars. To be fair, tennis never translates to the screen well.
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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#4 Post by yogi » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:34 am

An interesting film with some good performances that doesn't tell you too much more than what you'd probably suspect about Borg and McEnroe.

There are some nice details about how much of a perfectionist Borg is and it's nice seeing how different he was as a young player, but we get even less for McEnroe though Shia LaBeouf is excellent throughout - not something I recall ever thinking before.

But, as the film suggests, any rivalry is purely sporting and any animosity is just a media creation confined to newspaper headlines.

Unlike Senna or Rush there's no narrative of two players lives and sporting careers being intertwined and feeding of each other, so we are left with a fairly interesting character study of two contrasting personalities, but not as contrasting as you may think, and then a tense, epic, well executed tennis finale.

Oh and also, as The Sparrow said, a terrible Jimmy Connors :D

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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#5 Post by ladams888 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:23 am

Saw this yesterday in Wimbledon (very apt!). Not being a tennis fan (at all!), I was not sure if it was going to be my sort of film. However it soon became apparent that watching the rivalry between Borg and McEnroe was very similar to the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda in Rush. So, not so much a film about tennis, but about the two personalities between the players. It was interesting to see that the brooding, unemotional Borg had been very like the volatile McEnroe when he was younger, but had, over the years, learnt to control himself and put all emotion behind him. I was really stunned by Sverrir Gudnason’s similarity to Borg – so much so that I was constantly wondering if it was really him – knowing full well that it couldn’t be because the real Borg is 61! Although Shia LaBeouf bears no physical resemblance to McEnroe, he was perfect for the part, you could almost see the pent-up anger emanating from him. Although I remember when McEnroe first appeared on the international tennis scene, I couldn’t remember who won that Wimbledon final in 1980, so the final was as suspenseful for me as for the people who were actually there. For me, as someone not remotely interested in tennis, a solid 8/10.

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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#6 Post by LiteupLee » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:31 pm

I loved loved loved this. Found it fascinating finding out about both of them in their youth, who knew they were so similar, but at different times in their lives. Reminds me how dull tennis is nowadays, shame really.
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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#7 Post by Robibob » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:41 pm

Borg v McEnroe...my tennis heroes in boyhood. How can you make a film about one tennis match? Surprisingly this was beautifully achieved with even the match scenes saved from predictable inevitability. No ridiculous slow-mo at every shot and tension mixed in good measure with elation and disappointment. How alike was Sverrir Gudnason to Borg; quite unnerving. Needless to say I loved the film and have already raved about it to a few friends (and I didn't know Borg had such a fire when he was young!).

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Re: Borg Vs McEnroe

#8 Post by McG » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:16 pm

I found this film to be more enjoyable than expected. I knew very little about Borg other than how great a player he was and also how focussed he was. I had no idea that as a youngster he had such a temper and seemed very similar to McEnroe but Borg learned to harness his temper.
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