7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Enragingly Honest - Encouragingly Hopeful.,
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This review is from: Hardball (DVD)
A film, not unlike poetry projects different messages to different people.
This story begins where Conor, a hardened gambler finds himself on his knees in a sanctuary. The priest asks him if he's looking for faith or forgiveness. "I'm looking for the balls to cover the spread." He replies with submissive desperation. He returns to a bar where he loses himself in the purposeless world of gambling, finds himself in the desperate situation of not having enough money to cover his gambling debt, and winds up being beaten up by a loan shark. His desperation leads him to accept a job coaching a baseball team that consists of underprivileged kids from the crime infested projects for $500.00 a week. The team is short two players. Their school teacher, Sister Wilkes, played by Diane Lane, won't allow the two members who complete the team to play until they have read their book reports. Conor takes it upon himself to negotiate with her, and ends up agreeing to tutor the boys. Initially the coaching starts off as merely a means to an end, but as he spends more time with the boys and becomes familiarized with the dangers to which they are exposed and the conditions under which they are forced to live, he recognizes something more important than himself and his own problems. He teaches the boys to respect one another. He helps them to believe in themselves. One day when Conor presents himself in the classroom, dressed in pants that, to the amusement of the children are way too short for him, he finds himself being affected by the words of Kofi, who is requested by Siter Wilkes to give a review on the book that they were assigned to read. "Where I'm from do nobody father come back."
In a sequence of events that follow, Conor finds himself trying to cheer the boys up when they are down. The scene where Conor waves his arms in the air, and sings to B.I.G.'s rap song "Big Poppa" in an attempt to help Miles with his rhythm which he needs in order to pitch well, is both entertaining and heartwarming. For me, the best scene is portrayed when Conor reaches a cross-road, and has to choose between gambling his winnings and treating the Kekambas to a big league game. He chooses to treat the boys to the game, and on seeing the ecstasy on their faces, he derives obvious pleasure at allowing his own inner peace to parallel the happiness he sees in the children. His facial expresion reads - "Yeah, now this feels right!" After a profoundly tragic event, Conor is astounded by the boys' staying power and their ability to always show up; he tells them so.
In a world where we are exposed to an accelerated severing of the threads of human kindness, it is uplifting to watch a film in which the premise encompasses the message -- through the fertilizer a flower may grow. As for the role of Conor, no one could have played the role as perfectly as Keanu Reeves, as he possesses a quality that projects his own isolating sadness, which parallels that of the boys. The boys who played the team members of the Kekambas were outstanding actors. I highly recommend this film for all parents to see.