Since I’ve been attending school I’ve noticed that my appetite for serious films has diminished. “Brain overload” has made fluffy rom-coms and action movies with minimal plot and lots of action my usual escapist speed. However, I realize that it’s been a while since I reviewed any meaty dramas, and that I miss the genre. To cure this neglect, this edition of Rave Reviews brings you The Debt and Moneyball.
I’ve been excited about watching The Debt. The cast for John Madden’s (Shakespeare in Love) cold war spy thriller is to die for. Three pairs of incredible actors share three roles, playing the younger and modern day versions of the same character. The film’s leading lady, Rachel Singer, is played by Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain. Brooding David Peretz is shared by Ciaran Hinds and Sam Worthington, while arrogant Stephan Gold is played by Tom Wilkinson and Marton Csokas. As if the star power wasn’t enough, the story’s not your typical black hat, white hat spy movie. Rachel, David and Stephan are members of Mossad, the Israeli equivalent of the CIA. In the 1960s, the young agents were tasked with hunting down and kidnapping Dieter Vogel, a Nazi war criminal accused of performing horrific surgeries on Jewish PoWs during World War II. The film begins as a celebration of their success—Rachel had shot Vogel after he tried to escape her custody. But as the story unfolds the viewer learns that things didn’t go the way the three agents reported, and the debt they now owe for having lived their lives as heroes has to be paid back at a very high cost. This film is exciting, dangerous and heartbreaking, and is sure to please drama lovers.
Another movie I missed in theatres was Moneyball, an easy-going biopic of Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), general manager for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics. The story centres around Beane’s desire to shake up recruiting practices after the A’s are booted from the post-season by the New York Yankees. Beane meets Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill, and modelled after Beane’s real-life associate Paul DePodesta) who convinces Beane that baseball recruiting has been getting it wrong choosing players based on biases rather than statistics. Together, Beane and Brand create a new method for recruitment and attract the ire of baseball traditionalists. I liked, but didn’t love, Moneyball. Much like a baseball game, the pace was slow, peppered with a few moments of guts and glory, and a few big hits. The story was fascinating and well told but not one I would recommend for your must-see list.
With only a few months left in my scholarly career, I’m looking forward to getting my taste back for dramas. Comedies, romances and action films are great, but the calibre of talent attracted to dramas can’t be beat. And with awards season heating up, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do if I want to hit up the whole list of best film nominees.