42: Mostly Showing the Myth and Sometimes the Man

Posted: April 17, 2013 in Movies


42 finds it easy to make a story about Jackie Robinson the baseball legend but not so easy to find the real heart of Robinson the man.  Director Brian Helgeland (the writer of Mystic River, L.A. Confidential and director of dumb fun pics Payback and A Knight’s Tale) keeps all the heroic and naturally inspiring  beats in the Robinson story immune to  “black” polish and whitewash, hyperbolic music, corny acting and stale story moments—allowing only enough quiet heartbreak and  rage to give Robinson and 42 an edge of humanity.   The  charismatic Chadwick Boseman as Robinson (who moves like a born baseball player)  follows the mythic line until Helgeland allows a quiet grimace or tone to display the just Jackie under the Saint Jack.  Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey the owner who dared to risk the color line in pursuit of a pennant cigar stomps, bushy eyebrows, facial ticks and drawls his way through the pater paternis role.  The nostalgic tone and the racial tension between the crowd, other players, and at times, even Robinson’s own teammates does feel authentic, giving 42 a certain dramatic and mythic coherence.  A B.

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