Summer 1980. Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), rock star of tennis, is after his fifth Wimbledon title. John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-comer notorious for his on-court outbursts, is after his first. Their preparations—Borg’s involve almost OCD-ish rituals, McEnroe’s a lot of partying—are intercut with flashbacks from childhood and the paths that led them to this showdown. Perhaps it’s not unexpected that this Swedish/Danish/Finnish coproduction—though one with lots of English-language dialogue—focuses more on the Swede than the American, though that’s where the surprising bit of the story is. While their public personas lead one Wimbledon announcer to dub them “Ice Borg and Super Brat,” we see that Borg struggled mightily with his own anger in the game, cursing refs and throwing tantrums just as McEnroe does, until he learned to control his emotions. (The real Borg’s own son, Leo, plays the tween Björn.) Sports movies are never about sports, and this uncommonly elegant and unexpectedly moving one is not about tennis, but about how two very different men cope—or don’t—in very different ways with their rage.
Director: Janus Metz
Producer: Jon Nohrstedt, Fredrik Wikström Nicastro and Tim King
Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Ian Blackman, David Bamber, Jane Perry, Roy McCrerey, Robert Emms and Scott Arthur