I’m not a huge baseball fan. In fact, I find it uninteresting, boring even. That being said, Moneyball is charming. Brad Pitt and Johan Hill lead as Billy and Peter, two men using an unorthodox method to change the game of baseball for the Oakland A’s. These two actors captivate the audience; Hill with his subtle shyness and unassuming intelligence, Pitt with his emotionally charged relationship with the game of baseball and the past decisions that haunt him in the form of flashbacks.
Typically the classic narrative of “losing team rises to stardom against all odds” would translate as stale and clichéd. However, the story of Moneyball rings true and fresh. The direction of Bennett Miller, who also directed Capote in 2005, is superb as he creates silences that speak more than any dialogue in the film. The evocative performances of Pitt and Hill are tangible, tense at times, and truly draw the viewer into the story. Aaron Sorkin, now a household name due to The Social Network, co-wrote the adapted screenplay based on Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Sorkin again creates an unforgettable story.
The majority of the film explores Billy’s relationship with the game of baseball. He mentions that baseball is truly romantic. The film points to the fact that major league players are paid so much that some of the romance has been taken out of the game. For Billy and Peter, they have a miniscule budget which doesn’t allow them to pay the 12 million dollar salaries, so they work with what they can afford based on the statistics of each player. With this new form of recruiting and managing, Billy’s relationship with the game changes, and a new type of baseball is born.
Visually, the film is pretty standard and unfortunately lacks ingenuity. The only point of deviation from classic editing seems to be the abstract charts and numbers that pixilate across the screen as Peter goes through stats and figures with Billy. But where the film lacks visually, it is made up in the writing and acting.
Throughout the film we question what drives Billy. Is it trying to fulfill the baseball career he never had after high school? Is he trying to right the fact that the scouts were wrong about him? And then there is a young daughter who is prevalent in his life that fuels many of his decisions and ultimately his final one. Peter’s metaphor of Billy “hitting a home run” at the end of the film reads a bit sappy, but overall the poignancy of the film is on point and worth sitting through the extra innings.
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