Review #37 42


Director: Brian Helgeland.

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, T.R. Knight, Nicole Beharie.

Running time: 128 minutes.

Certificate: 12A.

SynopsisJackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) is the first player to ever cross the colour line in Major League Baseball, and his historic signing by team manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) causes controversy amongst his team mates.

There’s something about baseball movies that resonates with audiences across the globe, as these films tend to have more to them than just the sport. 42 tells many stories: that of an American hero, an important part of the history of baseball, and the fight against racism.

Jackie Robinson is the first black man to break Major League Baseball’s infamous colour line. 42 follows Robinson’s journey from signing with the Dodgers’ minor league affiliate, the Montreal Royals, to and beyond April 15th 1947, the infamous date in baseball history when he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, made possible by the team’s manager Branch Rickey. The film doesn’t only follow Robinson’s professional career as a baseball player, but also documents his private side, and highlights the most important relationship of his life, with his supportive wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie).

There are a couple of harsh scenes in the movie that really encapsulate the awful racism present in sports during the 40s. One example of Rickey’s many wise words to Robinson was to demonstrate restraint in the face of bigotry, and it’s testament to Boseman’s fine acting that we see how conflicted Robinson was when up against prejudice – at times even from his own teammates. The relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman instantly wins you over with his portrayal of such a talented but victimised figure, and if you look at videos of Robinson, you can see that Boseman has fine-tuned his performance to reflect the unique and unforgettable manner in the way he runs, throws and plays baseball.

Part of 42’s charm is the way in which Boseman and Beharie successfully convey Jackie and Rachel Robinson’s strong relationship, which develops as the couple struggle through the racial tensions in America. Harrison Ford is almost unrecognisable in his supporting role, wearing prosthetics and convincingly altering his voice to sound more like Rickey.

An absolute must-see, not since REMEMBER THE TITANS has a film so beautifully told the story of the fight for equality in sport. Director Brian Helgeland has given audiences a new American hero.

Five stars. Obviously. 

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