While there are those who will inevitably accuse Eastwood of gilding the lily, of telling one of the few optimistic stories to be plucked from a South Africa that remains rife with despair, the counterproof is right there in Invictus itself. For all the celebratory atmosphere of the World Cup Final, the movie ends not with the pomp and circumstance in Ellis Park Stadium, or with the crowds of joyous revelers spilling into the Johannesburg streets, but rather on the simple, quiet image of the president, seated in the back of his limousine, removing his glasses and massaging the bridge of his nose.
“You see him as a lone figure in the car,” Eastwood says. “You can tell he’s tired. This is just one hurdle, and you get the feeling he’s got a long way to go. You know, he was 75 when he took over as president, which is really old, even by today’s standards”—curious words coming from a man who, six months shy of 80 himself, seems committed to a more feverish pace of work than ever.