GO SEE 'SUGAR'!

sugarImmediate reaction:

It is a gorgeous, delicate film that will break your heart and make you very upset with Major League Baseball’s exploitation of (specifically) Domincan baseball players. Apparently, every team has an “academy” in the Dominican Republic where players go to try to make it to the United States. The only English they are taught has to do directly with baseball, and they’re given no grammatical context that could help them communicate effectively off the field. Sugar’s experience is contrasted with that of an American player who was drafted out of Stanford, and another older Dominican player, Jorge. After Jorge is released, Sugar says he’s “not a horse,” that they should allow him time for his injury to heal, and that’s the turning point. They both find community in the end, but what’s so fucked up is how difficult Sugar’s road was despite the fact that all along, he was playing a game, and one he loved. Algenis Perez Soto, who wasn’t an actor prior to being cast by chance, played the part perfectly. Shy, trapped (by many forces), but determined—everything was there, all at once.

Music is used in my favorite cinematic way, in which action continues silently as it plays over, seemingly out of sync with the action but always enriching the subtext. There is a Spanish version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in it that I absolutely must have, and TV on the Radio has their own big scene. It kind of comes off as a plug for them, yet that doesn’t diminish its relevance.

The writers/directors were Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who also did Half Nelson. I wasn’t a big fan of that one (unbelievable, somewhat dull, didn’t go anywhere), but every aspect of this film was dead on.

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