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It’s without question that sports dramas that are based on true stories usually have a nice emotional core or intensity to them, otherwise what would be the point of making them in the first place. Borg/McEnroe is one of the latest true stories centered around a sport to receive the big screen treatment. Also seeing the return of Shia LaBeouf in a committed role, this movie has a lot going for it that had me excited. Happily, I can say that this is a movie made with care and the overall impact of the film is felt by the time the credits roll. I truly believe that a little bit of everyone out in the world can compare themselves to certain aspects of the two title characters. Although this movie is very small in terms of its theatre count, here’s why I believe it deserves your time.
As the film leads up to the inevitable Wimbledon finals in the year 1980, Borg/McEnroe follows Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe as it dives into their past and how they may or may not be able to cope with losing the title match in the coming days. This is a very simplistic film that follows these two competitors as they await the match, and then the movie goes out with a bang in keeping you on the edge of your seat as you await the victor. This is also where I found my biggest complaint with the film, seeing as its runtime was a little long for its type of storytelling.
Even at a mere 107 minutes, this movie felt a little long, due to the fact that you’re really just waiting for the day to come where these two competitors will be going head to head. It felt as though the flashbacks were there to give this film a real feature length feel, but in reality, it ended up feeling like filler. That being said, Borg/McEnroe manages to hold your interest, because each and every one of the flashbacks are interesting (even if it’s slightly boring at times). I truly believe that this movie is able to hold everyone’s attention because Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf give terrific performances here.
Being the first time I’ve seen Sverrir Gudnason on-screen, I can’t wait to see more of him, because not only did he look just like Bjorn Borg, but his committed performance really took his character over the edge in my opinion. LaBeouf definitely holds his own as well. Being absent from cinema for the past few years, it was uncertain when his return would be, but I think he will have a perfect fit in independent films such as Borg/McEnroe. His eccentric character got a few laughs and a few tears from the audience and when an actor can accomplish both, he, along with the filmmakers, have done something right.
Although not really known for anything mainstream yet, writer Ronnie Sandahl and director Janus Metz definitely have bright futures if they choose to break out even further. The screenplay was very well-written in my opinion, giving just the right amount of levity before getting too serious, and then letting loose throughout the tense tennis sequences as well. I would love to see these two team up again.
In the end, Borg/McEnroe is a very, very good film from start to finish. Although simplistic, emotion and tension run rampant throughout. Written and directed with care, acted spectacularly, and delivering a satisfying conclusion even for those who knew the outcome, I really don’t have anything negative to say, aside from the fact that it can feel boring at times and a little dragged out to fit a feature film runtime. I recommend checking out Borg/McEnroe when you get the chance. It’s a very solid story about two rivals that live very different lives, so to speak.