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By 2008, more than 25 percent of major league baseball players were born in Latin America. At 19, Miguel "Sugar" Santos, a serious kid from the Dominican Republic, signs with Kansas City. He flies to Phoenix for tryouts and is sent to the Class A team "The Swing" in the fictional town of Bridgetown, Iowa, where he lives with a farm family. Thus begins his odyssey: leaving his mom and girlfriend; living in an alien culture; learning English; overcoming jitters; working hard; achieving early success; navigating friendships, occasional racism, and a woman's mixed signals; dealing with an injury; trying performance-enhancing drugs; and, searching for his place in the world. Will he make it to the Majors; will he play in New York?Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Filmed in quasi-documentary style, the film appears on the surface to be about the Latino dream of making it to the major leagues. Upon closer review, the family and friends of Sugar only ask "Are you going to the states?". The crux of the film lies not so much in the long odds of making it to the show, but moreso, simply escaping the homeland ... it's just that baseball is viewed as the quickest ticket out.
The "Half Nelson" writer/director team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck score again with "Sugar". What really hit home with me was how many people miss out on their real chance because they just have a simple shortage of passion for their talent. When Sugar bashes the water cooler, it's not because he pitched poorly, but rather because he fears he will be shipped back home.
There are many fine moments in this and the final act twist is not just terrific story telling, but fitting as well. It does what a final act should do ... connect the dots. Think back to the domino scene when one guy spouts that he once hit 98 in spring training. The recognition that he is back home playing dominoes is the real story. Good stuff.
First time actor Algenis Perez Soto perfectly captures the charm and innocence of Sugar and finally the harsh reality of the situation. This is one to see.
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