Friday 13 September 2013

"42" (The Guardian 13/09/13)

42 (12A) 128 mins ***

The week’s other sporting true story – how, in 1946, Jackie Robinson became major league baseball’s first African-American player – will evidently have had greater resonance across the Atlantic; its small, optimistic UK release is a bit like distributors asking audiences in Poughkeepsie to gather for The Laurie Cunningham Story. Still, writer-director Brian Helgeland has given it a handsome, faultlessly sincere treatment, sounding a few pragmatic notes – dramatising how Robinson (newcomer Chadwick Boseman) was initially recruited by Brooklyn Dodgers chief Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford, blustering) to tap an emergent black fanbase – before charting Robinson’s trial by and triumph over racist crowds, teammates and opposition managers; rousing climaxes, mostly well-earned, arrive every half-hour. Amid a roster of valuable supporting players (Christopher Meloni, Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk), Boseman hits his key scenes out of the park, making a swell couple with Shame’s Nicole Beharie, while Helgeland stages Robinson’s signature base-stealing with undeniable aplomb. 

42 opens in selected cinemas from today.

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