Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 for language and sexuality
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Bettany and Kirsten Dunst put their love match to the test in this lightweight
romantic comedy set against the grassy green courts of
up front and center as Peter Colt, a veteran English player whose
less-than-glorious career is coming to an unceremonious end. He’s ranked 119th in the world and
Peter and Lizzie meet cute as the result of a hotel room switcheroo that finds Lizzie in the shower and Peter politely befuddled but covertly delighted by the encounter. Frisky flirtation turns to hanky panky which segues into a languorous, montage-based romance.
Peter’s game benefits, as he claws his way from a Wild Card draw into the quarter-finals and beyond. Lizzie’s does not, much to the consternation of her pushy manager dad (Sam Neill) and an incessant and frenzied throng of reporters.
veteran of many Wimbledons (as observer, not player), I am ably qualified to
Bettany and Dunst play well off one another, Bettany finally getting the chance to prove his mettle as a romantic lead. The script is trite but palatable, a silly trifle of recreational and sexual banter. Picky point, but neither actor comes close to displaying (or faking) the athletic prowess necessary to play the current international circuit.
The real star is the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which graciously granted the filmmakers unlimited access to its grounds and blazes bright as a shrine to the gentleman’s game.