Trouble With The Curve
Direction: Robert Lorenz
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
It's a priceless acting comeback. After completing Gran Torino back in 2008, Clint Eastwood announced that he would not return in front of the camera again. Luckily he has made an exception for his longtime producer-cum-disciple, Robert Lorenz, who makes his directorial debut with this resolutely old-fashioned baseball drama.
This is also the first time in two decades since In The Line Of Fire that Eastwood has appeared in a film that he didn't also direct.
The 82-year-old American icon portrays a veteran talent scout whose eyesight is beginning to fail. The grumpy old man grudgingly accepts the help of his estranged daughter (Adams, sufficiently spirited) on what may turn out to be his last scouting mission.
Together, they check out a cocky high school player with the potential to become the next major league phenomenon. And wouldn't you know it, the time the widower and his daughter spend by the batter's box and in rowdy bars leads them to smooth out their troubled relationship.
Preferring to act on his instincts alone, the ageing traditionalist disdains his younger colleagues who depend on computers, in the manner of the recent Moneyball, to evaluate the players' abilities. On her part, his daughter is an avid baseball fan and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the game.
The film's soggy romantic angle is provided by a former pitcher/wannabe broadcaster (Justin Timberlake) who makes her acquaintance while swapping baseball statistics. Unfortunately too, the wrap-up which introduces an amateur Latino baseballer reeks of contrivance.
Like his mentor, Robert Lorenz maintains a straightforward style. The carefully structured screenplay is suffused with poignant moments, none more so than the one where the elderly scout breaks down at his wife's graveside.
Imbuing his role with vulnerability and gravitas, the octogenarian actor turns in one of his richest characterizations.
Just for the ever-incredible Clint Eastwood, Trouble With The Curve is a winner.