Cast: Morgan Freeman,
Director: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood's cinema is filled with a rare uplifting feeling that keeps us captivated despite knowing how the plot is going to unfold. Be it Million Dollar Baby or last year's Gran Torino, he has portrayed human triumph over insurmountable odds like no other. Here he is at it again as he unfolds a chapter from the eventful life of the legendary Nelson Mandela. After decades of apartheid when he became the President of South Africa, cynics feared that the country would break up as society was still racially divided. But Madiba, as he is called by his fervent followers, had a plan up his sleeve. He teaches his followers the path of compassion and forgiveness.
Knowing that the Rugby World Cup of 1995 is to be held in South Africa, he sees a great opportunity.
Till then rugby was considered a white man's game in the country. He believes that if he backs the game, the fears of the white community will fade away. He faces criticism from his community, but he stands his ground. It is not a utopian idea. He knows the crucial sectors of the economy are still in the white community's hands and it is prudent to win their faith to propel the rainbow nation on to the path of inclusive growth.
Despite its predictable curves and heavy-handed execution of certain situations, Eastwood holds our attention with some arousing moments. Like the one when the rugby team visits the black-dominated countryside or the one when captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) visits Mandela's cell on Robben Island or the one where Mandela imparts Henley's poem Invictus, his motivational mantra, to Pienaar.
Morgan Freeman as Mandela brings the big man's spirit alive on screen. From the accent to movements to hiding his personal pain, Freeman is very much the cheerful Mandela we know and admire. Damon is convincing as Pienaar, whose conservative facade cracks in front of Mandela's sanguinity.