I was looking forward to Wimbleton as a light romantic comedy. Instead I feel like I got a film without a second act.
The very watchable Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind; A Knight’s Tale) plays Peter, a pro tennis player who is ranked 119 in the world. Kirsten Dunst plays Lizzie Bradbury, an American pro tennis player. Both are in London to compete at Wimbleton. This is to be Peter’s last competition; he is considering a job as a tennis instructor at a country club.
And both are staying at the Dorchester, London’s premiere hotel (one wonders how Peter can afford it.) Peter gets a luxury suite; he knows it is a mistake but says “o well” and takes the key. When he enters the room, Lizzie is in the shower and doesn’t seem surprised at all to see him. The flirtation is on; she has noticed him before at other competitions. We discover this meeting is probably not by accident (though we are never sure if it is probablilty or not; a plot line left hanging - probably.)
The first half of the film does a little to set up the second half, but spends most of the time getting the two main characters into bed with each other – and it succeeds here. The second half is about how sex has freed Peter to win Wimbleton, and Lizzie to lose. Even for a romantic comedy, it felt like the writers took short-cuts.
After all, there is no second act here.
Lizzie is a character without character, but maybe that’s because the film truly belongs to Peter. We get to meet his family, and they add interest and humor to the film… it would have been more fun to spend more time with them; the romance was so unbelieveable, even for a film that necessarily compresses time and events into two hours, that it seemed annoying.
I did enjoy the sports/tennis metaphor for life, how sports parallel and mirrors life and relationships and builds character. But the use of tennis, which like golf is becoming a less socially exclusive game, to parallel competition and tension between the male and female characters, just didn’t work for me. I didn’t care about Peter and Lizzie as a couple; but I did care about Peter and his family.
Sorry, but I was disappointed.
I usually have a very hard time with films that have more than one writer. This one has three and it makes you wonder how hard they had to work to save – or spoil – the original script. Don’t mean to be harsh, but I expected more.