Wimbledon (rated PG-13 for language, sexuality, and partial nudity) is an enjoyable, even lovable movie if one part of it is overlooked-as in, "except for the shooting, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"
Stars Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany, as American and Brit tennis players, play their roles perfectly. (Director Richard Loncraine praised his young actress in this unusual way: "Kirsten's clearly been doing this since she was a fetus.") As in traditional romance comedies, the principals fall in love and at the end recognize the value of marriage and family. But as in many contemporary films, the couple decides to couple virtually at first sight-yet the act is supposedly no more significant than a muscle relaxant.
Yeah, right. How should viewers and reviewers respond? Amorally, by accepting the premise as a given of contemporary life? Moralistically, by hoping the characters get a comeuppance? Or Christianly, by realizing that all of us sin, and hoping that the filmmakers indicate some recognition of God's grace breaking through what we take for granted?
Sadly, the film doesn't recognize even the slightest concern about amoral behavior, except as it might affect physical performance during a match. Nor, apparently, have major critics noticed that something is missing. Typical review comments: "Terribly tender, good-hearted . . . a certain welcome warmth . . . You aren't likely to see a film with more warmth and good humor anytime soon." All of that is probably true (and the sex itself is offscreen), but I couldn't find any newspaper or magazine reviews that noticed this, uh, little thing called, uh, fornication.
Wimbledon gets so many things right: the fleetingness of fame, the virtue of humility, the loveliness of London on some days. It's a shame that, in portraying a cancer as a beauty mark, it gets one big thing wrong.