For two years I avoided this movie, because I thought it was about golf. And it is, sort of.
But not really.
Hardy Greaves is an old man more enamored with golf (and life) than most people could understand. He shares with us a summer from his childhood while sprawled out after a heart attack on a fresh, green golf course. This particular summer was the most important of his life, during which he shared in the legend of a man named Bagger Vance, who once caddied for Rannulph Junuh.
You find out early on that Junuh was a hero of sorts, when the South was in desperate
need of a hero. But, like many men of the time, he'd been carried off to World War I,
never to be heard from again. Almost.
The details aren't so important but, then, you know the springboard for the story. Washed-up
alcoholic has-been gets a chance to prove he's still got it. This would almost be Tin Cup, or one of those baseball movies, except for Bagger Vance.
A man introduces himself to Junuh in his seemingly darkest moment. His name is Bagger, and he's a travelin' man come down this way an' jussabout happens to know some 'bout golfin'. He reckons he can caddie for Mr. Junuh during the greatest tournament the South has ever seen, against Mr. Bobby Jones and Mr. Walter Hagen. He reckons he'll do this for $5; a small sum even during The Great Depression, considering the grand prize is thousands more...
Bagger Vance has earned a series of bad reviews. The acting is woody, the
plot is trite, the director was misguided or the casting was off. The costumes weren't
real enough, the scenery too perfect, the message too hokey and the romance too vague.
I agree with none of this.
Rather than describing every symbol here, or going over every meaningful dialogue, beautiful camera pan or important sequence with a fine-toothed comb... I recommend that you see this movie yourself. Draw your own conclusions about the metaphysical; enjoy the zen-like experience Redford has tried to create. Such movies have different meanings for each of us and the analogy of a game helps many to understand. But this is no more about golf than Field of Dreams is about baseball, unless you happen to love the sport.
Released in 2000
Directed by Robert Redford
Will Smith as Bagger Vance
Matt Damon Rannulph Junuh
Charlize Theron Adele Invergordon
Joel Gretsch Bobby Jones
Bruce McGill Walter Hagen
J. Michael Moncrief Hardy Greaves (young)
Jack Lemmon Hardy Greaves (old)
Trip Hamilton Frank Greaves
Dermot Crowley Douglas McDermont
Harve Presnell John Invergordon
"Some things can't be learned. They must be remembered."
Cast Listing by imdb.com