Culture

Borg/McEnroe' rivalry movie kicks off Toronto festival

The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival opens Thursday with a look back at the storied rivalry between tennis stars John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.

"This is another parallel that I feel with him, for sure", he told reporters at a Thursday press conference.

In a 2008 interview with the Telegraph, McEnroe told the interviewer, "When I played tennis, I was on my own in front of everyone and felt naked on court". "I don't think we're going to see another tennis film for a long time". "I am honoured to be able to part of this and to be able to share it".

McEnroe is misunderstood, said LaBeouf. When I started buying art, my father said I was mad to spend so much money on it.

Shia LaBeouf's first public appearance since his July arrest, and subsequent racist meltdown, played more like a game of leisurely doubles than a pressure-cooker press conference. The screen veteran plays Borg's tennis coach and mentor Lennart Bergalin, the man responsible for calming his game and focusing his mind on becoming the best in the world, an achievement that he fast became in his early late teens/ early twenties.

"It's not just screaming rage. He used rage as a tactic to throw people off". "In that way, he's an artist".

Studying one another on TV, and recognizing aspects of themselves in one another, McEnroe wonders what happens when the pressure becomes too much for the well-behaved Borg to contain, while Borg sees past McEnroe's shouty shenanigans and recognizes his extreme underlying discipline as a player.

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As in competing tennis picture "The Battle of the Sexes" (which seems a far more commercial prospect, in the U.S.at least, given its added political dimension and likable lead actors), director Janus Metz's stylish, Scandi-made behind-the-scenes sports movie builds to an extended on-court showdown - in this case, a virtuoso, 20-minute tennis montage that breathes fresh suspense into the foregone conclusion of the match itself. As the main story builds towards their Wimbledon match, we continue to flashback, mostly with Bjorn learning to control his emotions and a bit with McEnroe trying to impress parents who always demand more from their talented son.

"I think it's pure coincidence that we're seeing two tennis films out at the same time", said Handling.

"You could've given me 20 years and I would've never played like McEnroe". Art actually gave me pleasure. "It had to be something universal, something that transcended the sport", Metz said.

LaBeouf said he hasn't met McEnroe but would like to.

Naturally, I'll be here, too. with continuing reports from the festival, which runs through September 17. Canadian tennis phenom Denis Shapovalov was set to walk the red carpet along with the film's stars for the gala screening.

Among the first celebrities to arrive in Toronto for the fest were Charlie Hunnam of "Sons of Anarchy" fame, who stars in "Papillon" with Rami Malek of "Mr. Robot", Armie Hammer of "Call Me By Your Name", and supermodel and musician Grace Jones, who is promoting a documentary about her life.

Other films on offer include Suburbicon, a George Clooney-directed satire tackling racial prejudice in 1950s America, and Darren Aronofsky's horror movie mother!



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