movie film review | chris tookey


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  Sugar Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
7.68 /10
Sugar Algenis Perez Soto , Jorge Rayniel Rufino
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Directed by: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Written by: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Released: 2008
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 114

A cherishable rarity - an honest portrait of a sportsman.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Almost all sports movies are about high achievement. A few are about heroic failure. Sugar is unique, in that it resolutely avoids the melodramatics of traditional sports pictures. There’s no last-minute fightback, no moment of triumph over insurmountable odds. In place of these seemingly obligatory elements, however, is something even more rewarding.

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck show real flair for capture the texture and minutiae of a sportsman’s life, and they have found a leading actor in Algenis Perez Soto (pictured) who portrays with wonderful transparency the travails of an uneducated Dominican baseball pitcher who travels to America in search of success but finds himself just another player on a long conveyor belt of young, disposable hopefuls.

Sugar, sweetly and refreshingly, concentrates on the life that precedes, surrounds and succeeds a sporting career. The result may not be one of the most thrilling sports movies ever, and it’s far too leisurely to be a hit, but it is honest and moving.

The film is not so much about baseball as about the experience of being an immigrant, about not fully understanding the culture of your new country, about worrying that you’re going to disappoint those who are dependent on you back home – not only financially, but psychologically, because you’re fulfilling their dreams by proxy.

It reminded me of that great basketball documentary Hoop Dreams in the way it explores the hopes and disappointments of sportsmen who never achieve the heights. Great cinema can extend our own experience by making us understand how it must feel to be somebody else – and this is, in its gentle and unpretentious way, great cinema.

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