Watch This Sporting Life
- 2 hr 14 min
This Sporting Life is a 1963 British drama film directed by Lindsay Anderson and starring Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, and Alan Badel. The film is a powerful exploration of the life of a working-class rugby player, Frank Machin, who struggles to find his place in a world that is not always kind to people like him. Set against the gritty backdrop of Northern England in the 1960s, the film opens with Machin (Harris) signing on with a rugby team after being scouted by the team's owner, Weaver (Badel). Despite his initial reluctance to be a part of a team, Machin soon becomes a star player, drawing the attention of local fans and team officials alike. However, his success on the field masks the fact that he is deeply unhappy, haunted by the memory of his abusive father, and plagued by a simmering sense of anger and aggression that he cannot seem to shake.
Machin's troubles are compounded by his complicated relationship with his landlady, Mrs. Hammond (Roberts), a widow who takes a sexual interest in him despite his lack of interest in her. Over time, Machin and Mrs. Hammond develop a strange and often volatile bond, with Machin relying on her for emotional support while struggling to figure out his own feelings towards her.
As the film progresses, Machin's personal and professional lives become increasingly intertwined, with his troubled home life taking a toll on his performance on the field. His intense desire to win at all costs earns him the respect of his teammates, but it also makes him enemies, particularly when he begins to challenge Weaver's authority.
With its searing portrayal of a man on the edge, This Sporting Life remains a powerful and influential film, one that offers a stark look at the complexities of class, masculinity, and identity in postwar Britain. Harris delivers a mesmerizing performance as Machin, bringing to life the character's simmering rage and inner turmoil with a raw, visceral intensity that captures his innermost fears and desires. Roberts is equally compelling as Mrs. Hammond, a woman haunted by her own tragic past and driven to find love and connection wherever she can.
At its core, This Sporting Life is a film about the ways in which we seek meaning and purpose in a world that is often cruel and unforgiving. Machin's journey is a deeply human one, one that speaks to the struggle of anyone who has ever felt lost, alone, and desperate for something more. Through it all, Anderson's direction is assured and sensitive, capturing the beauty and brutality of life with a delicate balance that speaks to the film's enduring appeal.
This Sporting Life is a 1963 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 14 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5.