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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Moneyball", Brad Pitt hits a home run


To start with, there aren't many memorable sports films (boxing being the exception), just a few worth remembering. But the perspective of watching a movie about baseball was even more discouraging. Sorry folks, but I simply don't get baseball. It is such a boring game, in my opinion. So, a good film about baseball? Hard for me to believe it. Before I watched "Moneyball", that is.

"Moneyball" is, of course, about baseball, which made me miss some superficial details, or not sharing the emotional part of the games (few) we see during the film. But luckily it is more about the insights of a game, its nature, and need to evolve. And foremost, is the story, excellently constructed and brilliantly performed, of human beings.

Going to the "message" of "Moneyball" (I know, delicate subject), this is not the first movie that pretends to show us an inspiring "true" story, in this case the one of the Oakland A's, a team with low economic possibilities that managed to compete with the rich & powerful teams of the league, but have to face rebuilding after a successful season with very limited resources. That's when manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, decides to make a drastic move in order to still be competitive. "Moneyball" then becames a film about standing against and overcoming the odds, combating the usual pattern that would condemn his team. It is unoriginal, but its quite moving and, as I said, despite being about baseball, that's just the backdrop. As a Spaniard is easy to make the analogy with our incredibly unbalanced and unfair Soccer League, not to mention other minority sports.

There are two major factors why this film succeeds: one is the striking, always intriguing and powerful script, written by Aaron Sorkin (who's also responsible of another brave screenplay, "The Social Network") in a great job adapting Michael Lewis' book. In a movie where dialogue is everything, this is always refreshing, dynamic, and alive. Even the familiar scenes, or the flashbacks in time, that could easily introduce a cheesy, unnecessary dramatic element to the film are there for the purpose of showing a more accurate portray of Beane's life. Praise director Bennett Miller and Sorkin for that.

The other driving force are the actors. Brad Pitt convinces as Billy Beane, portraying a character that, as every human being, is complex, imperfect and demanding. Without overacting or forcing any scene, Pitt is able to achieve a very remarkable creation: what we see in every scene is not an actor, but a person struggling against the enormous challenging he is facing. But even is Pitt is excellent, to me the surprise, and the actor that "steals the show" is Jonah Hill, who plays the Harvard "nerd" Pete Brand, the person that will give Beane the chance to compete against the rich teams with a new system of analysis of the players and the game that will shock the entire league (not to mention their own team). He is superb in his role, a mixture of fragility and doubt with a passionate, fierce conviction in what he does. Of course, Philip Seymour Hoffman (as always) is also great in his role as the Oakland's coach, but I would have love he had received some more scenes to develop his character a bit more.

Overall, a quality film, with great acting, direction and screenplaying. It might not be groundbreaking in its content or its conclusion, although is far more interesting than a vast majority of the sports genre. But if you allow me the easy end, is a solid, and very pleasant, home run. From a non-baseball fan.

SCORE: 7/10

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