My take on…42
42 is not a baseball movie.
Yes, it’s a movie that loves baseball, and shows us baseball…but it’s a movie about people.
The fact that I use the plural there is part of what makes the movie good.
Certainly, it’s the story of Jackie Robinson, and Chadwick Boseman (of Persons Unknown) is great in the part. You can see what a hero is: not somebody who thinks they are a hero, or who chooses to be a hero, but who does the right thing for others, no matter how much it costs personally.
However, it’s also the story of Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford, in a Supporting actor Oscar worthy performance), the baseball executive who made the decision to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier…knowing it would be hard, knowing it would be a long, hard fought struggle.
That might be enough of a dynamic, but director (and screenwriter) Brian Helgeland gives us a rich cast of characters.
In fact, I want to take a moment to praise Helgeland’s direction. One of the ways you can tell if something is well-directed is if there is a consistency of vision, and an evenness of tone. Are the actors all working towards the same goal? Are performances there to help the story?
In this case, absolutely. There isn’t a bad or showboaty performance in the movie…from the smallest parts to the largest.
The art direction and costumes also fit right into it.
If this movie was released in November, I could see it garnering several Oscar nominations. With the release being this early in the year, though, that will be more of a challenge.
My Significant Other thought this was the best movie we’ve seen this year, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I liked the old-fashioned, pure movie tone…no nudity, no gore, just story-telling. You do hear the “n word” (repeatedly, but appropriately), and the “s word” is used once. I thought it moved along nicely, but I can see how some people might find it…too quiet. There certainly is drama (even though we know how it eventually turns out), but not a lot of dramatic incidents.
I recommend this one…and think that it might end up being shown in schools.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.