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Movie Review: “Sugar”

[official website]

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

LibertyBoyNYC scores it:  run-scoring double

This movie tells the tale of the biggest season in the life of Miguel “Azucar” Santos.  Attending a baseball camp in the Dominican Republic sponsored by the Kansas City Royals, 19-year-old Sugar is a hard-throwing pitcher who has been training since age 16 in a culture that idolizes its baseball players.  Everything seems to come easy in his sunny world – success on the mound, the adulation of local children, fun, sex – except for the tranquility of his family, who remind him of the ambition to be drafted and succeed in the United States.  A local drinking buddy is scorned for having returned from a stint pitching in the minors empty-handed.  A camp mate reveals that his signing bonus was ten times that of Sugar, but Sugar doesn’t give away his anxiety or his comparatively miniscule prize.  Finally, he is drafted, but at the party in his honor he thinks only of the table he is building for his mother.  His father, who taught him of carpentry but passed away when Sugar was young, leaving the status of “man of his house” on his shoulders at a very young age – which sets the tone for the entire movie as Sugar struggles to become a man over a single season in the sun.

That’s the first 15 minutes; then he gets on the plane to America.  I won’t give away any more, but the story is told with immense subtlety and nuance while still being, at its heart, a baseball movie.  Eventually, Sugar finds his redemption on the field.  That redemption comes in the final 15 seconds: the camera focuses on Sugar’s face as he finds himself among life-worn peers, with a firm knowledge of both his strengths and his limitations – down, but still young, and not out.

Written by Ryan

November 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm