- Running time:
- 118 minutes
- Algenis Perez Soto -
- Miguel ``Sugar'' Santos
- Rayniel Rufino -
- Jorge Ramirez
- Andre Holland -
- Michael Gaston -
- Jaime Tirelli -
19-year-old Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Pérez Soto in a powerful film debut) works his way up the major league baseball food chain in the Dominican Republic, a hero to his friends and family. Eventually he gets a shot at a spring training camp in Phoenix and lands a spot on a minor league team in Iowa. But the further he gets from home, the more isolated he feels, and making it big suddenly doesn't seem so easy, or important.
The buzz: Indie filmmaking team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck made a big impression on serious filmgoers with their 2006 debut "Half Nelson," which didn't exactly set the box office on fire but did score an Oscar nom for leading man Ryan Gosling. Now they're back with a sophomore effort that was well received at the 2008 Sundance festival, but seems like a marketing nightmare thanks to its lack of recognizable actors, plentiful subtitled dialogue and traditionally non-blockbuster subject matter (baseball).
The verdict: How many sports dramas dare to think beyond winning, losing and how you play the game? The narrative thrust of "Sugar" comes from somewhere less expected: Santos' unpredictable journey to find his place in the world. Don't let the movie's arthouse circuit modesty deceive you, "Sugar" chronicles a uniquely individual story with skill and conviction. It's not a typical baseball movie, immigrant drama or slice of small town Americana—it's a wiser, more compassionate combination of all of that. Boden and Fleck use the great American pastime to give their audience a closer look at what the New American experience means today. Those are big themes to pack into a small picture, and this sturdy little cinematic all-star rises to the challenge.
Did you know? The filmmakers took baseball seriously onscreen and off, hiring 1990 World Series MVP José Rijo as a consultant to help organize the movie's players and teams. He also wound up playing a supporting role as the head of a baseball academy.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Sugar in Cleveland.
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