As a bombastic insight into twenty-first-century sport, where even the weigh-in attracts a whooping sell-out crowd, the film has value. However, ultimately, it’s just another cog in the McGregor hype machine, settling for the chest-beating tone of a pre-fight press conference.
In short, the raw materials are there for a fun – if throwback – genre piece of the kind that kept ’90s cinema stocked with stiffs. Alas, the tension dissipates in a tangle of muddled subplots, sluggish pacing and some strange decisions from director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The result isn’t a Bone Collector, never mind a Se7en.
If anything, this doc reminds you that all relationships are strange, hopeful experiments in intimacy. And it’s that same hope the filmmakers lend to Dina and Scott’s story: you find yourself willing them along, wanting their marriage to work. You end up feeling honoured to have shared these special moments with them.
It’s slightly frustrating that Winslet’s character Alex is nearly always the one who needs looking after, but the chemistry between them is good, the suspense sufficient and the ending gives you a gentle tug on the heartstrings.
Even Dench, while adeptly highlighting the vulnerabilities of age and the loneliness of power, can’t distract from the soft treatment, which leaves little room for the harsh realities of prejudice which must have made this a more painful and ugly chapter for many involved than this film ever dares suggest.
It’s full of sharp dialogue and entertaining characters and fuelled by a wryly enlightened view of our world and how it can be at once cruel and caring. For a story built on such dark foundations, it’s weirdly reassuring. It’s also enormous fun.
This is a fun action adventure that resonates because it doesn’t glamorise everything. You feel a warmth after watching it, as there’s something in its depiction of imperfect, loving family relationships that stays with you.