No foul play with Trouble With The Curve: Eastwood delivers in possible last outing
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
It is nice seeing Eastwood in front of the camera again. Gran Torino, which was supposed to mark the end of his acting career, left a mixed taste. Fortunately, his latest and supposed final entry, Trouble with the Curve, released Friday, is a well-made film and works superbly as the final word on his career.
In Trouble with the Curve, Eastwood plays Gus, a baseball scout, whose sight is disintegrating, along with the relationship to his daughter, Mickey (played by Amy Adams). With the film, first-time director Robert Lorenz and screenwriter Randy Brown craft a multifaceted work that is about the reconstruction of a damaged relationship between a father and a daughter (making it a companion piece to Brave), the love of baseball and a celebration of Eastwood’s career.
When a film has an icon such as Eastwood on the top of the marquee, it is imperative that the other characters on the primary and secondary tiers are of equal caliber. Trouble with the Curve delivers on the talent front. Matthew Lillard returns to the silver screen, after primarily voicing and portraying Shaggy for several years. Fans will be pleased to see him return to the role of a villain, but one not as sadistic as Stu Macher in Scream. John Goodman and Robert Patrick (The X-Files) share several terrific scenes with Lillard, as they flesh out the interactions behind baseball recruitment. However, outside of the established actors, Justin Timberlake offered a performance that was a welcomed surprise as a former baseball player who is a symbolic son for Gus (Eastwood). His satisfactory performance discredits the argument that musicians cannot be good actors.
These fine performances are spread across a well-stitched canvas of America. Heart-to-heart discussions are held in ratty hotels or backwoods baseball fields. What makes the welcomed location shooting and carefully selected extras work is the exchanges that occur around the sport connecting them. Baseball narratives and statistics become a way for Adam’s character to reconnect with her father and find love. It also creates a love of the sport on which the film is centered around. The characterizations, exchanges, and subplots, the viewer ends up becoming excited about the sport, like the characters. I entered having a casual knowledge and mild appreciation of the game, but ended up purchasing The Book of Baseball afterwards and discovered the sport because of the film.
The film also serves as a time capsule for Eastwood. For instance, sequences set in Gus’s home in Atlanta recall those from Gran Torino¸ due to the interactions he has with his friends and family, in addition to a truly heartfelt sequence that shows Gus visiting his wife’s grave. The film packs an emotional punch, as viewers feel the weight of her departure, unlike that in Gran Torino, where the biological family is depicted negatively, thus creating a subplot of adopted sons, like in Trouble With The Curve. A flashback sequence to past trauma has the color drained, with the greys and greens emphasized, recalling the device Eastwood used on Changeling. Plus, the content connects back with a subplot in the 2008 film. Embedded within this artistic homage is a tribute to Eastwood’s films from 1970’s, particularly the Dirty Harry ones, as he has been made up to resemble himself from over 40 years ago.
Trouble with the Curve is recommended for viewing. Its success is not restricted to the great performances or locations, but in its revelation that the best interactions in sports are off the field.