Paul Bettany once had an almost-promising career in tennis, but he’s on his way out now,and his last hurrah is a wild-card placement he’s landed at Wimbledon. A chance encounter withrising super-alpha player Kirsten Dunst revives his passion for both life and the game, and hesuddenly starts beating all comers. Her game, however, begins to suffer as she becomesdistracted by her new relationship.
As a romantic comedy, this leaves much to be desired. Top-billed Dunst i…n’t actually on-screen that much (this is Bettany’s film through and through), and her character isn’t particularlylikeable. One is left wondering exactly what Bettany sees in her. As a tennis film, however, thisis pretty good. The trajectory of Bettany’s career is fascinating, and the court scenes are verysuspenseful (despite a dumbing down, unnecessary commentary by John MacEnroe.
The sound comes in both DTS and Dolby 5.1. Both sound just fine, with clear, undistortedvoices and solid surround effects (whether these be roaring crowds or background seagulls). TheDTS appears to be slightly stronger, with a more distinct bass line to the music.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture has terrifically rich colours. The image is sharp,blacks and contrasts are very strong, and there is no edge enhancement or grain visible. Just hownice the transfer is can be gauged by looking at the distinctly dull shots of the film in the firstfeaturette — one can hardly believe one is looking at the same footage.
Director Richard Loncraine and Bettany handle the commentary, which is engaging enough,and concentrates mainly on the nuts and bolts of the making of the film. Four brief featurettes –“Wimbledon: A Look Inside”, “Welcome to the Club”, “Ball Control” and “Coach a Rising Star” – are basically promotional, but the last three focus on more particular aspects of the film,respectively Wimbledon itself, the shooting of the tennis sequences, and how the actors werecoached to play the sport convincingly. There are DVD-ROM features, and there’s the theatricaltrailer (plus a few more ads). The menu’s main screen is animated and scored, and the secondaryscreens are scored.
The film feels a little like a hybrid of English and American comedies, and the former workswhile the latter doesn’t. The romance angle isn’t much, either. There is enough tennis going on,however, that the film remains enjoyable.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- 4 Making-of Featuettes
- DVD-ROM Extras