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Tin Cup

November 8, 2010

Tin Cup (1996)
Director: Ron Shelton
Actors: Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson

tincup.jpg (314×161)

Synopsis: Washed-up golf pro, Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner), gets a second chance at love and professional success.

Review: Ron Shelton, master of the sports drama (think Bull Durham, Play it to the Bone, and For Love of the Game), turned his energies to golf in this 1996 picture, and though the film is ultimately only moderately successful, it does at least understand something of the enduring dichotomy of addiction/frustration that golf engenders in those who play the game. Shelton conceives his treatise on golf very logically in a scuzzy Texas desert setting, and peoples it with exactly the right sort of actors, particularly Kevin Costner as the mercurial, but washed-up golf pro, and Don Johnson as his arrogant, upmarket counterpart who has found success on the US PGA tour. At times, Shelton doesn’t seem exactly sure where to take the material, as there is a tension between the formulaic bent of the story – Costner getting his life together, finding his golf game, and winning the girl – versus the laconic, screwball elements (offbeat dialogue and sub-characters) that wouldn’t be out of place in a Coen brothers film. Symptomatic of this awkward tone is the film’s unconvincing climax, where Shelton seems to want to both bury expectations of a conventional ‘happy ending’ for Costner by having his maverick temperament deny him victory at the US Open, while turning it into a conventional affirmation of his hero’s virtues, when Costner does eventually land his impossible golf shot on the green at the last hole. (November 2010)

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