Peter Bradshaw

Author's posts

Feb 22

I, Tonya review – Margot Robbie superbly uninhibited as reviled ice-skater

With such a dynamic central performance, this hilarious mockumentary account of Tonya Harding’s rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan skates close to celebrating herI, Tonya is a bleakly hilarious tale of absolute unrepentance. It’s based on the true story of US…

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Nov 23

Battle of the Sexes review – Emma Stone aces it in tennis’s biggest grudge match

Steve Carell is well cast as the ex-champ who tried to prove men’s superiority on court, but Stone calls the shots as women’s No 1 Billie Jean KingThis is a seductively enjoyable, smart and well-acted film based on the most deadly serious sporting cont…

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Oct 12

Journeyman review – Paddy Considine rolls with the punches in heartfelt boxing drama

The actor-director’s forceful but flawed story of a fighter facing a bruising crisis also stars Jodie Whittaker, outstanding as his devoted wifePaddy Considine now presents his second feature as writer-director, and it’s a powerful and sincerely intend…

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Sep 21

Jake LaMotta: a flawed character alchemised by Raging Bull into a mythical figure

LaMotta was immortalised on screen by Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, but their brilliant 1980 movie remade boxing history in the process

Related: Jake LaMotta, former boxer whose life was subject of Raging Bull, dies aged 95

“Now, sometimes, at night, when I think back, I feel like I’m looking at an old black-and-white movie of myself. Why it should be black-and-white, I don’t know, but it is. Not a good movie, either, jerky, with gaps in it, a string of poorly lit sequences, some of them with no beginning and no end.”

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Sep 07

Borg/McEnroe review – needle-free account of celebrated on-court duel never breaks a sweat

Shia LaBeouf is perfectly cast as superbrat tennis ace John McEnroe, but this replay of his 1980 Wimbledon final with Björn Borg fails to create drama

This tennis film feels like a two-hour baseline rally, and it’s not just the rackets that are made of wood. It is all about the allegedly fascinating psychological face-off between supercool Swede Björn Borg and the superbrat challenger from New York, John McEnroe – played respectively by Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf. 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. The awful truth was that for all their rivalry and wildly different styles, there wasn’t any needle between these two men personally, no tension, nothing outside the tennis court for us to get excited about.

Really, almost any other pairing of characters from this film would have been more interesting: there is McEnroe/Peter Fleming, his compatriot player and supposed friend on whom John might have played nasty gamesmanship tricks in the changing room. There’s McEnroe/McEnroe Sr, the demanding dad and professional lawyer who drove him hard. And there’s Borg/Lennart Bergelin, the coach and mentor played by Stellan Skårsgard with a perpetual look of priestly sorrow.

Related: Game, set and movie: what makes a winning tennis film?

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