The first reviews are in for Borg/McEnroe, after the highly anticipated sports drama made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film follows the famous rivalry between tennis legends Bjorn Bjorg (Sverrir Gudnason) and John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), which culminated at the 1980 Wimbledon Men’s Singles final.
Last night, it opened the Toronto Film Festival and received a series of mixed reviews from critics, with many agreeing that the film failed to sufficiently capture the tension and turmoil of the pair’s chequered relationship.
The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw wrote: “It culminates in their first, titanic Wimbledon confrontation in the 1980 final. That really was an unbearably tense contest, but at the end of this film my nails remained salon-fresh.”
He later added: “You find yourself waiting for something to happen that isn’t a tennis match, and the tennis itself conforms to the rule that tennis on film isn’t exciting. Something about the grammar and structure of movie editing cancels the rhythm and cumulative drama of tennis itself.”
His comments were echoed by IndieWire‘s David Ehrlich, who described it as a “staid little movie that races around the court and rallies itself to exhaustion, a historical drama that enshrines the narrative underpinnings of all great sports stories without doing anything to upend them.”
But despite the film’s apparent faults, there was praise for the performances of both LaBeouf and Gudnason.
“LaBeouf and Gudnason give performances as good as you could want here, bringing unexpected shades to the well known characters”, The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore wrote.
Borg/McEnroe is released in UK cinemas on September 22.