Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt
Runtime: 133 Mins
Review: James Tyas
Moneyball might seem to be a hard- sell for British audiences due to its subject matter. Despite being a US national pastime, the UK remain impervious to the charms of baseball. Thankfully for us, Moneyball features very little actual baseball: interest doesn’t stem from what happens on the pitch but what happens off it.
Brad Pitt is Billy Beane, general manager of the cash- strapped and ailing Oakland A’s. Seeing several of his key players being pilfered by teams with deeper pockets, Beane becomes disillusioned with his inability to afford players to replace them and decides a sea change is essential. During a failed negotiation with another team he happens upon Peter Brand, a young statistics boffin, played by Jonah Hill, who gives a wonderfully understated performance.
Beane and Brand set about piecing together a team of misfits and has- beens whose collective ability is greater than the sum of its parts. If Beane can pull this experiment off he will revolutionise the sport.
Writing duo Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing and The Social Network fame) go about it with brio producing a script full of wit and subtlety encapsulated in an electrifying scene in which Beane and Brand frantically bluff their way through a deal across three different clubs on three phone lines. On paper this sounds dull, but on screen it sings.
Bennett Miller directs efficiently allowing the film breathing space to let the performances and script shine.
Subtlety is the key in Moneyball, on the surface an unappealing film about sport statistics, but with a human heart making it the best sport film since The Damned United.