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Watched: 15 February

I enjoyed this dramatisation of the early days of the rivalry between ice-cool tennis champion Björn Borg and hotheaded pretender to the throne John McEnroe, which focuses on the 1980 Wimbledon championships and culminates in an excellently-staged re-enactment of their gripping men’s singles final. The two leads – Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf – do a pretty good job, although hanging around with LaBeouf’s McEnroe, who enjoys London’s nightlife and seems altogether more human (on-court outbursts and all), is much more fun than watching Gudnason’s Borg mope around town. The film is partly concerned with the psychological damage that the two men suffered as boys, the suggestion being that both players’ personalities were shaped in different ways by the strict training regimes they endured from a young age; it’s also interesting to observe the way in which they manage stress and pressure throughout their tournament matches. The big shame is that the film ends after the 1980 final, though, and that their rematch (and Borg’s subsequent retirement) a year later only gets just a couple of lines prior to the credits. It’s a punchy, straightforward snapshot of two great sporting careers, but there are a few sports movie cliches to contend with, as well as the nagging sense that there’s so much more to the relationship between these players than we get here. (***)