By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
Smiling knowingly from beneath his shabby hat (which looks as though it has seen more than a few free bowls of soup), Smith is ideal in the well-worn role, but--to borrow songstress Loreena McKennitt's term for her sublime backing ensemble--he's also an idling Porsche, squelched into mannered behavior that can scarcely contain his ample reservoirs of charm and wit. (Note to producers: Let Smith direct Redford next time.)
He's the best of the bunch here, but the movie's detached rosiness adds a cumbersome handicap, as with Theron--whose every scene looks like springtime in a pantyliner commercial--and Damon, who is simply another diluted entry in a growing line of stand-ins (Hutton, Pitt, Fiennes) for the director himself.
Like most of his films after the poignant Ordinary People and jovial Milagro Beanfield War--especially the interminable Horse Whisperer--Bagger Vance is a story of healing that shies away from its own soulful potential, cowering behind lush cinematography and immaculate production design. In essence, it's another pretty and polite story of a wrecked course's having its divots systematically replaced.
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