The only thing I really liked about Barry Levinson‘s The Natural was the handsome face, sandy blonde hair and trim, athletic bod of Robert Redford, who was 46 during filming. (His mythical character, Roy Hobbs, was around 34 in Bernard Malamud’s 1952 source novel.) And….all right, in some ways Levinson generated hints of that good old yesteryear baseball vibe, that “time of simplicity and innocence” feeling that guys of a certain age feel a special rapport with or longing for.
Other than these two elements I didn’t believe (or even want to believe) a single frame in this damn film, and in fact came to hate the way Levinson constantly underlined, flaunted, mythologized. If he had only had the discipline to play it straight and real and low-key, but no.
And I’m speaking as a lover of baseball games. I adore sitting alongside the first or third-base lines and smelling the grass and the soil. And as a worshipper of certain baseball films — Moneyball, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, For The Love of the Game, The Rookie, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, etc.
Seriously — fuck The Natural. That awful triumphant-hero music, the way Glenn Close is lighted in the bleachers, Darren McGavin‘s grotesque villain with the glass eye, etc.