In common with "American Beauty" and "Sunset Boulevard", this is a movie narrated by a dead man, in this case an uncredited Jack Lemmon who plays an old codger who keels over while playing a lonely hole on his favourite course. His story concerns the greatest golfer that Savannah, Georgia ever produced, Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) who won all the trophies, including the local heiress, Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron). Alas, traumatised by the First World War, he became a boozing, gambling drifter.
More than a decade later he returns to Savannah. His deserted old flame has her work cut out to save what's left of her fortune from the Wall Street Crash. She decides to stage a championship tournament between Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, two sporting legends portrayed convincingly by Joel Gretsch and Bruce McGill, and Savannah wants its local boy to play as well, even though he has lost his swing.
Enter Bagger Vance (Will Smith), a mysterious caddy who materialises out of the night and offers to help him find it. Golf is a metaphor for life, it would seem, and the first step to winning is to shed self-pity.
The rest of this sumptuously photographed film (by Michael Ballhaus) is the tournament itself, with its predictable highs and lows. Once or twice the camera even attempts a ball's eye view as it flies towards the green.
Stephen Pressfield's novel would have us believe that Bagger is some kind of deity who can shape a destiny. A young boy, beautifully acted with a genuine Georgian accent by J Michael Moncrief, persuades his hero to get back in the game, and it is he who becomes the Jack Lemmon character, fittingly joining Bagger on the great fairway in the sky.
Alas, in spite of being lovely to look at, it is pretentious piffle, although Will Smith shows skill and subtlety in his ludicrous role.
Read an interview with Robert Redford, director of "The Legend of Bagger Vance".
Visit the official site.