Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and T.R. Knight
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
Now due to my lack of prior knowledge regarding this story, I cannot attest to this film’s historical accuracy or potential lack of it. In turn, I also cannot attest to how revelatory this film may be for those who do already know a lot about baseball and this story. For me personally, the entire film was revelatory as this was the first time I was hearing about this player and this story. However, despite the events themselves being an exploration for me, I never felt as if the film fully explored the man that was Jackie Robinson. Watching this film, I learnt who Jackie Robinson was, what he did and why he was and is important however I never got to know the man and the exact who, what, when, where and why regarding his life and motivations. This film doesn’t seem particularly concerned with being a character study however and rather a history lesson, explaining this reluctance to truly explore Jackie as a person rather than a personality.
This feels to both the film’s fault and credit, like a TV movie tailor made for children to be shown in schools. However having just come out of high school and therefore fresh from watching many of those sort of films, this is definitely at the high end of those sort of movies. This comparison and assumption regarding the film’s intentions and future is in some ways intended as a slight towards writer/director Brian Helgeland but also as praise. The film isn’t particularly visually striking, however Helgeland tells the story efficiently and effectively, not attempting to overshadow proceedings with a pretense of style and organically stirs your emotions throughout. For a film that could have felt so cheesy and preachy, 42 has a measure of naturalism and restraint to the way in which it goes about manipulating your feelings. There are many powerful and poignant scenes, which demonstrate the struggle of repressed anger, and the sickeningly easy way in which youth are indoctrinated with racist ideology. While the film may not visually pop and feels like it could have easily been made for TV (The presence of many TV familiar actors perhaps not helping this perception, one that is undoubtedly influenced by the fact I watched the film on a plane) it also goes about its business with a lot more skill and finesse than films which feel more cinematic.
This is a film that doesn’t feel exploitative or manipulative, with it being an incredibly respectful portrayal of all involved. It also skillfully and thankfully shows the sides of all those involved in the game from the players, to the fans and the media. The film is at times however rather repetitive and it occasionally feels as if Helgeland rinsed and repeated the same basic scene multiple times but with different people serving the role of antagonistic white man. It would be easy to accuse this film of following sport and racism movie clichés, however given the fact that it is based on a true story, it would also be slightly unfair to do so.
In regards to the performances, in Chadwick Boseman, a star is born. As Jackie; Chadwick has to carry the entire film and gives a charismatic and charming performance. He is incredibly watchable and instantly likable, pulling off all aspects of the person shown in this film. Harrison Ford also gives an effective supporting performance, however it is rather more one note and though a very solid performance, is one that an actor of Ford’s caliber and skill could do in his sleep.
Overall 42 is a very enjoyable and educational film. It taught and entertained me, with its heart being in the right place and it warming mine. Whilst refreshingly respectful and restrained, it is also at times repetitive, overly long and could have been edgier and more exploratory. However with multiple memorable moments, a promising lead performance and a genuine, effective earnestness, 42 may not be a home run but…it is a run.
Movie Parliament Rating: MINORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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