Toronto - Toronto's
International Film Festival served up an ace on Monday, announcing it
would open with a movie depicting the epic rivalry between tennis
legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
The premiere of "Borg/McEnroe," which stars Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe
and Sverrir Gudnason as Borg, re-enacts the legendary on-court battles
between the volatile American and his cucumber-cool Swedish rival.
"The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis
forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will
be a spectacular way for festival-goers to kick things off," said TIFF
director Piers Handling.
The film, which will open North America's largest film festival on
September 7, is a change in scenery for director Janus Metz, whose
award-winning documentary "Armadillo" focused on Danish troops serving
LaBeouf, who last month was forced to publicly apologize after being
arrested for drunken behavior at a hotel in Georgia, plays the US tennis
star famous for his tantrums and curly mop of hair.
McEnroe frequently clashed on court with the Swede, whose cool
composure provided a stark contrast in their face-offs in the late 1970s
and early 1980s. They played 14 times in all - each won seven times.
"The on-court scenes have the dynamism of a street battle, and the
drama peels back layers from what we know about both players," said the
festival's artistic director, Cameron Bailey.
"This was more than a simple conflict pitting an icy European against
an impulsive American. Audiences are in for one hell of a showdown."
"Borg/McEnroe" is the second tennis movie on the TIFF schedule -
"Battle of the Sexes," the story of tennis legend Billie Jean King's
showdown with Bobby Riggs starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, is also
in the line-up.
The Toronto film festival, which runs this year through September 17,
has become a launch pad for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors,
attracting hundreds of filmmakers and actors to the red carpet in
Canada's largest city.