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For Love of the Game (1999)
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Review Date: September 12, 1999
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Dana Stevens
Producers: Armyan Bernstein, Amy Robinson
Actors:
Kevin Costner
Kelly Preston
Plot:
An aging baseball player gets dumped by his girlfriend and asked to consider retirement by management right before what may be his last trip to the mound. As he begins to pitch towards a perfect game, he also looks back at his career, and more importantly, the special moments of his relationship with his girlfriend.
Critique:
Reflective, syrupy and effective adult, romantic drama which deals eloquently with a man torn between his affection towards the game of baseball (i.e. his career) and his ability to open up to a woman for whom he cares deeply (i.e. his love life). Do you have to like baseball to like this movie? Not at all. Would it help you enjoy this movie more if you liked baseball? Probably. This film is definitely not about baseball as much as BULL DURHAM and FIELD OF DREAMS were, but it does manage to spend quite a bit of time on the game in question. In fact, I could have done without some of the baseball scenes, which made me feel like I was watching a play-by-play game at times. The announcers were also welcome to some extent, but their voice-overs sure became irritating after a while. But I digress, since the meat of this film lies in the relationship built between the two people in the movie, Costner and Preston, and it is handled with much care and affection. Raimi also proves that he has an excellent ear for cinema with some pointed scenes featuring the "power" of a pitcher's concentration. Wonderfully crafted.

I also liked the way the film intercuts the progression of Costner's bid for a perfect game, with the reflections upon his relationship with this woman whom he appears to adore. The romance is constructed diligently with genuine believability, with both actors extremely effective in their roles. Admittedly, I never considered Kelly Preston anything more than Mrs. Travolta, but goddamn if she didn't have me sniffling in this film. She and Kevin light up the screen with their affair, and I found myself relating to many of the issues which plagued their relationship as well. If you have ever been in a relationship which competed with your career for the top spot in your life, you will certainly appreciate many of the sentiments realistically delivered in this romantic tale. It definitely could have been cut by about twenty minutes, but all in all, the film made me cry like a baby, further appreciate the talents of director Raimi, and extend kudos to Costner who delivers one of the finest performances of his career (The poignant scene in his hotel room after the game is an ironic and powerful twist). This is definitely an adult drama featuring many moments of heartfelt emotion, and despite not being for everyone, it may just be the best romantic drama since 1997's AS GOOD AS IT GETS (8/10), and certainly worthy of a comparison to the strength of JERRY MAGUIRE (8/10).
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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