Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah HIll
There is no doubting the fact that when it comes to sporting transfers for the big screen, baseball does not exactly light up the English passion. After all, isn’t it just rounders for yanks who can’t hit with a smaller bat or catch with their bare hands?! Who wants to spend two hours watching that when Match of the Day is on?
Moneyball is, however, what The Social Network was to computer coding. Choosing to put the “action” backstage in favour of the colourful real-life characters, is perhaps this film’s greatest strength. Exchanging the strikes and “walks to first”, for the passion and strategy of manager Billy Bean (Pitt, continuing his impressive recent run of roles), the film follows his efforts to dramatically reinvent the game through the medium of…um…statistical analysis. Ok, so far, so dull. But what emerges is a surprisingly immersing portrayal of one man’s opportunism, and drive to be a success in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Written by Aaron Sorkin (the screenwriter behind The Social Network and West Wing) the dialogue fizzles, with one particular negotiation scene as gripping as it is confusing, utilising the interesting chemistry between Pitt and Hill ( as statistician, Peter Brand) to maximum effect. The pace feels more like a slowly dawning sun than the flick of a light switch, but there is still significant dramatic tension to be found. Avoiding most sporting film clichés admirably, and being strikingly shot by Nolan regular Wally Pfister, Moneyball is a stand-out film that solidifies Brad Pitt’s reputation further as he draws out the enigmatic character of Billy Bean, and may even win over some converts to the game – though more likely to mathematics and money.