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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

For Love of the Game
Directed by Sam Raimi
Universal 09/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - language, sexuality

In one monumentally bad day, veteran Detroit Tigers' pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) learns that the team's owner (Brian Cox) has sold the club to a corporate group who want to trade him to the San Francisco Giants. Billy is also told by Jane (Kelly Preston), his girlfriend of five years, that she's ending their relationship and is moving to London in order to pursue her journalism career.

Age 40, according to Carl Jung, is "the noon of life," a time when one's powers are at their zenith. It is also a period when one develops and integrates previously undeveloped aspects of the total personality. In this heart-affecting midlife drama by Dan Stevens based on a novel by Michael Shaara, Billy Chapel plays back in his head the magical and memorable moments of his baseball career while he is pitching against the New York Yankees, a team that is bound for the World Series. His best friend Gus (John C. Reilly), a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, is there to give him support, along with the rest of their team.

Although director Sam Raimi draws out all of the tension in this 40-year-old's attempt to pitch a no-hitter, the emotional undertow of the film is the protagonist's grief over Jane's departure from his life. Like many middle-aged men, he realizes that he has given himself so completely to his work that there's been nothing left for the one person in the world who really loves him. An African proverb goes "You can outdistance that which is running after you but not what is running inside you." In the single most dramatic day of his illustrious baseball career, Billy listens to the emotions of his heart and reverses the direction of his life.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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