With “Invictus,” director Clint Eastwood has again stepped up to the plate and knocked the cover off the ball. Or in this case, I should probably say he’s kicked it squarely over the goalpost. The story about Nelson Mandela using South Africa’s fervor for rugby to pull the country together following the end of apartheid really needs no metaphorical boost and is nothing short of inspirational.
This time the critics got it right. This is one of the best films to come along in some time. Could be talking Oscar nominations for best picture and best director. Also for Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Mandela and possibly for Matt Damon who plays rugby team captain Francois Pienaar. The movie is based upon the book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation,” by John Carlin. South Africa went from being a non-contender to winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995.
And don’t be overly concerned about not understanding the game of rugby. The film shows the South African national rugby team going out into a township to teach the basics of the game to kids as part of a public relations effort. The movie’s audience gets a brief rugby lesson in the process. Clint Eastwood’s a clever guy. Or maybe it was screenwriter Anthony Peckham. Either way it was a smart move.