Borg vs McEnroe
“Tennis players are like rock stars.” Come the turn of the 1980s, this statement wasn’t far off with tennis proving to be one of the worlds most popular sports. Following the initial boom of the late 1960s, a new generation were inspired to play at a professional standard, and the period that followed saw the rise of two of the greatest players and personalities the game has ever seen. The rivalry of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe stretched from 1978 to 1981, with the pair facing each other on the court 22 times. At which point in their three-year dual is Borg vs McEnroe set? The year is 1980, and the players are in London for the Wimbledon Championships.
The film immediately indulges the audience with flavours of what is to come from the opening scenes. Two very different men are engaging in the preparations for the annual Wimbledon tournament. One is a four-time winner, attempting to record his fifth; the other, a fiery individual with a sharp tongue, lack of manners but the worldliest of talents for the sport. The movie takes viewers on a journey through the childhoods of both Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), exploring the greater meaning of tennis in the players’ childhoods, and how as they grow from boys to men, the game becomes that much more stressful once the cameras are moved away. In a true story that slowly builds to the ultimate climax in both the picture and the players’ careers, Borg vs McEnroe depicts the meticulous, secret, and albeit stress-riddled lifestyles of tennis players in the Open Era.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if questions were asked prior to the filming of Borg McEnroe over whether a feature-length picture can be produced covering a well-known sporting event in which the outcome is also fairly common knowledge. However, with a plot that is fleshed out with in-depth studies into the youths of both Borg and McEnroe, the story of Wimbledon 1980 takes on an entirely new meaning. The emotions that come with the lifestyle and the differing personalities of the players are portrayed wonderfully by both Gudnason and LaBeouf, the former is simply brilliant, proving to be a very talented newcomer to Hollywood screens, and LaBeouf shows – despite the comments he may have received – he certainly still has “it”.
With unique cinematography, accurate costumes and a soundtrack strong enough to strike a thrilling chord, Borg vs McEnroe is a film for both tennis fans and those less interested in the sport. Considering the budget for the movie was only $7.5 million, the picture certainly holds bang for its buck, and if audiences can’t take anything away from a viewing for some reason at all, they’re at least going to really fancy a game of tennis.
Borg vs McEnroe is released nationwide on 22nd of September 2017.
Watch the trailer for Borg vs McEnroe here: