Yet another true story character-piece Aaron Sorkin has turned into cinematic gold.
Moneyball is directed by Bennet Miller and stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manage of the Oakland Athletics Baseball team. After a disappointing season end, Beane turns to economics student Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as a means to use maths and statistics to make a championship team on a shoestring budget, and in the process changes the sport of Baseball forever more.
Its an interesting narrative, a narrative that is elevated from standard biopic territory to new heights by the impressive screenplay concocted by Sorkin. Considering I have zero interest in sports, baseball or statistics, its a testament to the film that it still remains consistently engaging and interesting. Which is even more impressive considering 90% of Moneyball is people talking in offices. How on earth is maths chat so fascinating!? Damn you Sorkin and your brilliant dialogue. You made me interested in a topic I despise.
Another impressive aspect of the screenplay is its laser focus. Its about this story, and this story alone. There’s no unnecessary subplots, no wasted scenes, and no (thank the lord) pointless romances. Every scene matters, and everything feeds into a narrow river of fast-flowing plot, with the occasional rapids of raw emotion. While there are a few moments that seem to crop up in every biopic, Moneyball’s focus and writing ensures it never feels basic or dull for long. Damn you Sorkin. You’re just too damn good.
And as usual, Sorkin’s writing elevates great actors into brilliant performances. Pitt is the absolute star of the show (unsurprising considering he’s, well, Brad Pitt) and is perfect for the failed athlete turned General Manager. In almost every scene from the word go his character is filled with a subdued rage and frustration, and Pitt always ensures it can be seen bubbling under the surface. Jonah Hill is also great as the shy, bumbling Cambridge graduate, and develops a great rapor with Pitt as the film goes on. The late great Philip Seymour Hoffman also appears as the Athletes coach and unsurprisingly is also excellent – every scene he steals he exudes this calm weariness and wry intelligence. The world lost a great actor when he passed away.
Literally the only gripe I can find in Moneyball, other than a few unoriginal plot-points, is that in the earlier half of the film there are a few odd musical cues. To explain, the soundtrack steadily builds and breaks into this inspiring crash of cymbals and horns… but its happening while someone’s walking down a hallway. No dramatic moment. No heft. Its really odd – but honestly if that’s the biggest gripe I have with this film its doing very well indeed.
Once again Sorkin does it again. Moneyball is in the same league of The Social Network and Steve Jobs in fleshing out a true story with strong characters, great performances and engaging dialogue. I should not have liked Moneyball as much as I did. To anyone slightly interested in sports, this is a must-see. To everyone else, this is also a must-see.
General Audiences: Must-see
Film Buffs: Must-see