REVIEW: Brad Pitt Puts a Golden Spin on Moneyball

Movieline Score: 9


The marvel is that Miller still keeps you wondering how it will all turn out -- because even if you know, you don't really know, at least not in terms of where the story will take Beane. The picture has been shot, clearly with great care, by Wally Pfister (who often collaborates with Christopher Nolan but who has also done good, unflashy lens work on pictures like The Italian Job). At certain points, the golden stubble on Pitt's chin is lit as if it were a wheatfield in a Terrence Malick movie. But it all works. Pfister doesn't employ the tight closeup willy-nilly, and in some places, Pitt looks older, more worn-down, more laden with undereye baggage than he is in real life -- that's Beane's exhaustion and frustration speaking through his very skin.

But Pitt is careful not to play Beane as a suffering martyr. He balances the character's anxiety with freewheeling, impish skepticism. Pitt and Hill are terrific together: At first, when Beane and Brand are presenting their ideas to the doubting elders, Beane has to urge the timid Brand to jump in. But even then, the two have the wacky mind-meld of Bob and Ray -- they're like a comedy team whose timing is dictated by the music of the spheres instead of the old workaday beats, and it's wonderful.

Their connection is important because Beane is so often a man standing apart. Pitt knows how to play that kind of isolation without mawkishness. He was terrific in The Tree of Life, at least as good as any actor can be in Malick's bee-closeup universe. But he's even better here, both looser and more on-point. In one extraordinary, underplayed scene, Beane listens as his preteen daughter (played by the charming young actress Kerris Dorsey) sings a song for him while the two are out shopping for a guitar, a gift for her. Beane and his wife, played by the reliably solid Robin Wright, are divorced; she's remarried, he's not. (Be sure to watch for Spike Jonze in an uncredited, wicked little performance.)

Beane appears to be close to his daughter, but you can tell he doesn't see her as often as he'd like, or as often as he should. And the look on Pitt's face as he listens to that song -- a shadow of wonder and reckoning, as if everything else in the world could fall away at that moment and he wouldn't care -- has the sort of delicacy that a younger, greener actor wouldn't be able to pull off. In the past, Pitt has sometimes been a pretty but stiff performer, an heir to Robert Redford's wobbly gilded throne. But he's made a leap these past few years, right into his own golden age. When we see a new, young actor, we always wonder, What great thing will he do next? Now it's time, once again, to ask that of Pitt. It's even more exciting the second time around.

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  • AS says:

    Pitt can do no wrong.

  • Chasmosaur says:

    I remember reading a profile or interview of Pitt once years ago that described him as "a character actor stuck in a leading man's body." I know my favorite roles of his are from 12 Monkeys and Snatch
    I sometimes think that he's taken the traditional handsome-man leading roles because they are what's offered. He can play them and the pay is good. So he can now afford to do things like this that take you back to the place where you realize he's actually not a bad actor and has a nicely expressive face.

  • JAB says:

    I love baseball & found this movie to have even a wierder vibe than "Field Of Dreams" (which , before it became a smash, was a pretty strange film). I love this movie. I'm telling my Pitt-phobic friends -all guys, no women (go figure)- to get over it. He hasn't been this good being "Brad Pitt" since "...Benjamin Button". Hoffman is a blast to watch, but it was Jonah Hill who shocked me. He could've stole this movie, doesn't do it & this film is better for it.
    It is the most counterintuitive sports film I've seen since "North Dallas Forty".

  • Charles says:

    It's excellent. I haven't seen a better Pitt performance, Hill and Hoffman are great and the story is re ally involving. After "Drive," it's the best movie I've seen this year,