The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday January 22nd

Mediocre `Bagger Vance' Nothing Legendary

Robert Redford's latest film, "The Legend of Bagger Vance," is definitely best described with one word - melodramatic.

The movie, based on a Steven Pressfield novel, turns the game of golf into a metaphor for life.

Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) is at the top of his golf game and has just won the hand of the beautiful and wealthy Adele (Charlize Theron) when he's drafted into the Army. After his return, he can't overcome the trauma of war - he's given up on golf, broken ties with Adele, and turned to the bottle for comfort.

Then Bagger Vance comes along.

Vance, played by Will Smith, mysteriously enters Junuh's life as his caddy to help him recover more than just a lost golf swing.

The movie attempts to blend comedy, romance and drama, with mediocre results.

Jack Lemmon narrates the tale in a framing sequence. Theron and Damon's tense reunion gives the film an edge - but not enough of one. Smith's puzzling character provides the comedy, as well as much of the drama. But if you're looking to find out what exactly his "legend" is, don't hold your breath.

He remains an enigma throughout the movie; despite his seeming omniscience, you never quite figure out if he is a ghost, a prophet or just a bum with a good golf swing.

Vance helps Junuh retrieve his lost "swing" - literally assisting Junuh with his golf game as well as helping him get his life back on track.

The whole "golf is life" metaphor is intriguing at first. Vance is so mysterious when he appears out of thin air that you can't help but be curious about what this man, who seems to be incredibly knowledgeable, is saying.

Vance is absolutely dripping with philosophical idioms. He equates a man's grip on his golf club to the way the man lives his life. Then he remarks that his swing is something unique to every individual - something he is born with deep inside.

This is all fine and well, but it goes a little overboard -


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