Monday, March 22, 2010

THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) - Lindsay Anderson

Maybe it's that I know or care little about the rules of rugby. Maybe it's that Richard Harris' two-hour long lip-curl sneer and obsession with a mopey, homely widower just didn't connect. Maybe I just wasn't feeling particularly "sporting" late Sunday night. Whatever the reason, This Sporting Life was a bit of a drag.

Richard Harris plays a factory worker, Frank Machin, turned local rugby phenom who's shacking up with a widow who won't give him any love, no matter how successful he becomes. Harris sublimates this rejection and uses it on the field to run the scrum and bust heads. When he's not playing or drinking, he's brooding and trying to make some headway with the widow who's also brooding over her recent husband's suicide. There are intimations that maybe the two of them were indulging in hanky-panky when the hubby was still around, and this may be what pushed him over the edge. This intimation may be enough to fuel a work-related suicide but not a two-hour plus movie. There are things to enjoy in Sporting Life. Harris does a fine Streetcar-era Brit Brando, and Lindsay Anderson's shooting is fine. If you got too much uplift from Invictus but not enough rugby, then this could be the film for you.

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