Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (review)

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If you don’t know anything about legendary golfer Bobby Jones going into this film, you certainly won’t know anything on the way out. Glowing, soft-focus, hagiographic, toothless: Rowdy Herrington’s bland portrait posits Jones as a saintly, near perfect human being whose only flaw is the occasional indulgence in creative swearing when he flubs a swing. This we’re meant to interpret as an explosive temper that’s hindering Jones’s success, but Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ), one of the chilliest actors onscreen today, simply cannot convey such deep-seated turmoil. (Kudos for consistency, though: chilly Claire Forlani [Antitrust] plays Jones’s perfect wife.) The film’s only bright spot is Jeremy Northam (Possession) as Jones’s rival Walter Hagen: with minimal screen time and an excess of inner fire, he sketches, with a swagger and sly grin, a far more compelling, complicated, and conflicted personality. Apart from Northam, though, the film seems designed to confirm a nongolfer’s impression of the game as a dull waste of time.

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