Best of
lMovie Review
"Bagger Vance"
By Mira Harber
     The time is the start of the Depression (1928), the place is Savannah, Ga.  Adele (Charlize Theron) is about to lose it all if she doesn't take a big risk. Her father built one of the greatest golf courses in the country, but his timing is terrible with the advent of the Depression, and he shoots & kills himself. Adele bets it all by hosting a golf tournament featuring the two best players of the day, Walter Hagan (Bruce McGill) & Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch) and a local boy Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) who was once a great golf star in the South. The prize is an amazing amount for a exhibition tournament  - $10,000.
     These men represent three distinct types of men, of a way of playing golf,  and of living life. Bobby Jones was considered to be one of the greatest golfers that ever lived. He was grace in motion, and made a difficult thing look easy, and something easy look even easier. He was a gentleman and family man. Walter Hagan was just the opposite. He would shoot three terrible shots, and then one brilliant one. He was a carouser & womanizer. Both men realized that golf was not only a game, but an entertainment, and they provided plenty of that.
     I don't play golf, and this movie really isn't about golf. It is about how to live your life & how to find follow your true self. This movie is remarkably subtle and sensitive - it doesn't beat you on the head, but it's points are well and truly made. Golf is a game that can't be won, only played."
Golden boy Matt Damon goes off to war (WW1) and loses himself. He returns to Savannah - not to the life he once knew of ease, wealth and love (Adele was his lover)- rather he drinks and plays cards and has withdrawn from his former life. That is until he is drawn into a Golf Tournament with the two greatest players of the time. As he considers playing in this tournament, he realizes that he has "lost his swing." 
     A mysterious man appears. Bagger Vance (Will Smith) offers to be his caddy for the princely sum of $5. He gives him support and spiritual guidance -is this man real, a spirit or a fantasy? No matter, he is terrific in what could have been a totally cornball performance. Instead, Bagger Vance is inspiring and helps Junuh find himself again while finding his 'true, authentic swing'.
     All of the actors are excellently played and cast in this film particularly the newcomer J. Michael Moncreif who plays Hardy Greaves, a local 12 year old who has stars in his eyes and loves the game of golf his entire life. He is played entirely believably & beautifully. No false notes here. The two famous golfers, Hagan & Jones, are played by actors who both physically & temperamentally resemble the real men to a remarkable degree.
Charlize Theron as the heroine Adele brings 1940's glamour to her part. She is every bit the gorgeous movie star, and a very good actress too. Her career is on the upswing, and justly so. Matt Damon does a very credible job - not too much self-pity, wallowing in sorrow. He just wants to get through life and he finds a way, through the game of golf and with the help of the mysterious Bagger Vance.
     I highly recommend this movie for all ages and types. Don't miss it. As Bagger Vance says "Some things can't be learned, they must be remembered." 


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