SUGAR (director/writer: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck; cinematographer: Andrij Parekh; editor: Anna Boden; music: Michael Brook; cast: Algenis Perez Soto (Miguel “Sugar” Santos), Rayniel Rufino (Jorge Ramírez), Andre Holland (Brad Johnson), Michael Gaston (Stu Sutton), Jaime Tirelli (Osvaldo), José Rijo (Alvarez), Ellary Porterfield (Anne Higgins), Ann Whitney (Helen Higgins); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Mezey, Jamie Patricof, Jeremy Kipp Walker; Sony Classics (HBO); 2008-in Spanish and English, with English subtitles when appropriate)
“A raw and insightful film that will appeal to viewers who may or may not be sports fans.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Brooklyn-based couple of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson”/”Mississippi Grind“/”It’s Kind of A Funny Story”) are co-writers and co-directors of this highly pleasing introspective sports drama. The filmmakers tell about a native born Dominican baseball player trying to make it in America in the Bigs. It has room in its open-minded heart to also tell an engaging tale about his immigration experience, dealing with race relations and an unconventional personal ‘rags to riches’ story.
The phenom pitcher Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), nicknamed Sugar, who is a 19-year-old poverty-stricken Dominican leaving home for minor-league tryouts in Arizona and then in rural Iowa.
Like Hall of Fame Dominican pitcher Pedro Martinez and many others, he migrates to the U.S. and tries to take advantage of a golden opportunity to make it big-time as a baseball player.
The pic spends quality time showing him not only dealing with the ardors of playing ball, but dealing with a foreign language, a different diet, and the mixed messages he receives from his attraction to the white teenage daughter (Ellary Porterfield) of the Iowa couple he boards with.
The pic grows surprisingly dark when the kid is injured and bails out of the heartland for Manhattan.
The filmmakers keep things real and unsentimental, and the result is a raw and insightful film that will appeal to viewers who may or may not be sports fans.
REVIEWED ON 1/8/2016 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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