Director Quentin Reynaud’s Final Set is an off-beat sports tale centred around an ageing tennis protege who dreams of becoming something more while tackling some taxing personal problems.
On the surface, Final Set may seem like the typical sports drama and nothing more. However, beneath this film’s surface lies something quite emotionally resonant and wholly relatable. The crux of this story is nothing too new or unique, centred around a former tennis up-and-comer who has since had a run of bad luck, not fulfilling his true potential with injuries and personal tragedies littering the man’s life.
The movie picks up with our protagonist Thomas Edison (played wonderfully by Alex Lutz) at 37 years old and settled with an easy life. However, his obsessive nature gets the better of him when an opportunity arises to compete in the French Open Tennis Championships Qualifying round. Despite everyone around him advising that he’s in no condition to compete, Edison nearly ruins his entire life by pushing himself to the absolute limit in a highly satisfying yet distressing second act that does not let up.
The story’s structure has been done many times before; it’s a somewhat expected underdog story but with an exciting twist of the underdog being an older character instead of a younger one. While this is also quite familiar territory, with the later entries in the Rocky franchise sharing some very similar plot elements, the film elevates its material with some good, dramatic aspects, especially with its main character.
Alex Lutz, along with all the acting talent, deserves some serious acclaim for this. There are some very demanding sequences for any actor, not just in the extended tennis sequences that look brilliant, but in the more intense sequences with his partner, played devastatingly well by Ana Girardot. No one actor gives a bad performance. However, some characters were certainly written better than others, namely Edison’s mother, who felt stereotypical and was the catalyst for some unnecessary humour.
The ending, too, felt very forthcoming, and if you’ve seen any sports film ever before this one, it’s not hard to guess where this film’s climax goes. Something a little more surprising wouldn’t have been too hard to craft, as there are elements earlier within the story that set up a potentially unanticipated finale for the main characters that would have made it stand out much more.
Final Set delivers an entertaining and emotionally satisfying story with some great highs of emotion but some unfortunate lows of character development and lack of a surprising ending. It has something for everyone, however, and will leave most with a satisfying feeling. If nothing else, it reminds the audience that success can come at any age, despite what others may tell you.
Final Set is screening at the Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia, get your tickets to the film here!
The movie was first titled “Thomas Edison”, then “Lucky Loser”, before getting its final title “Cinquième set”.