“FINAL SET”— A Comeback

“FINAL SET”

A Comeback

Amos Lassen

Writer/Director Quentin Reynaud’s “Final Set” places emphasis on the psychology of the athlete and their personal stakes. Thomas Edison (Alex Lutz) is a once-promising and prodigious talent who made a French Open Semi-final at just 19, but he never lived up to his full potential. Now at 37, he is married to Eve (Ana Girardot), and they have a young child. His tennis career seems to be over. He has a knee injury and struggles to get invitations to big tournaments while coaching children to make a living. Though he is well past his prime, his desire to go on continues. After missing his expected entry into the French Open, Thomas must work his way through the qualifying rounds to get into the main draw and prove that he still has the ability and his worth to play.

Thomas knows this tournament could be his last, yet he is determined to push. This persistence leaves his wife and their young child in its wake. She, having once being a tennis player herself has moved into sports management and raising a child. Thomas continues traveling the world to play in tournaments in which they lose time and money. There is an intense argument between the two at dinner and these frustrations are exchanged. Both parties are angry that they are not supporting each other.

Thomas also has everything to prove to his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), a very stern and cold woman who is brutally honest about her son’s unfulfilled potential. She thinks she is partly to blame for sending him to a tennis academy at a young age where he taught to believe he was going to be a star and this resulted in her leaving her job and a then getting a divorce. She has lost faith in him and does not believe he has the mindset to be a champion. She can’t watch him play anymore. The conversations between Thomas and his mother show their relationship and the impact that his shortcomings have had on both their lives.

Thomas’ fortitude, strength, and desire to win is unmatched and the physical and mental hurdles he must clear is fascinating viewing. The tennis matches add a sense of realism. While much of the drama takes place off court, the final match between Thomas and a young protégé Damien Thosso is compelling viewing and full of tension.

We also see how hard it is to make it to an elite level and the levels of dedication and commitment that are necessary to maintain that level. We see Thomas’ regime as he strives to compete against his younger opponents and his last shot at success and is grueling.

This is an entertaining, well-acted film showing the effects elite sport can have on family relationships and long-term physical health problems. While its ending may seem abrupt, there are some really tender and emotionally charged sequences between Thomas and both his wife and mother, that help to give his matches a greater sense of purpose and meaning for his life moving forward.

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