Thursday, May 7, 2009

Un été sans point ni coup sûr

For a sport and also a child film, A No-Hit No-Run Summer is surprisingly good. By the way, this remark comes from someone who is not an enthusiast of baseball. Given that the film is directed by Francis Leclerc (Mémoire affective), don't expect to see any glitz or even too much borrowed stuffs from Hollywood sport films. All in all, while the film is quite efficient. Despite having a budget of four million dollars, it's too bad that it didn't even make more than a million at the box-office.

It's the summer of 1969. In the historical background, Montreal has its first professional baseball team, the Expos. Martin Gaudreault (Pier-Luc Funk), a 12 years old boy from a suburb of Montreal, is on vacation and dreams about being, one day, a player for the Expos. Besides, Martin wants to play for the Aritoscrats, his neighbourhood's pee-wee team led by Mr. Turcotte (Roy Dupuis). However, along with many of his friends, Martin gets cut from the team.

At the light of that, Charles (Patrice Robitaille), Martin's dad, decides to create a pee-wee baseball team by including Martin and all his friends who hadn't been drafted by the Aristocrats. However, Martin realizes two things. First of all, his team constantly loses. Besides, this goes without saying that Martin fears that his team would lose in a match against the Aristocrats (which turns out to be a terrific team). Secondly, his dad, despite his hard work, doesn't understand something about children and above all, baseball.

Obviously, A No-Hit No-Run Summer turned out to be an amazing film. However, I found the story quite predictable as a father-and-son and sport film. After all, just think that it's your usual film about underdogs who keep practising a sport despite their lack of talent. Against your expectations, A No-Hit No-Run Summer, thanks to Marc Robitaille's script, finds a way have depth through the personality of Martin's father, who wants his son to believe in himself while having fun, and Mr. Turcotte, who takes baseball way too seriously. With such an exploration of these two character's personality, this film beautifully carries the idea that although talent helps to excel, it's one's character that matters the most.

Besides, Francis Leclerc's film is beautifully served by a cast of very experienced adults with Patrice Robitaille (Maurice Richard), Roy Dupuis (Maurice Richard) and Jacinthe Laguë (Elles étaient cinq), as Martin's mother who takes part in women's emancipation (i.e. working and doing what she wants). Even if Dupuis (known to Americans and English Canadians for starring in the Canadian TV series Nikita) plays the coach of a team that will be the rival of Martin's team, Leclerc did a good job by not choosing to portray Mr. Turcotte as a really villain coach just the like the Icelandic coach you see in a Mighty Ducks film. Besides, despite their lack of experience, the children in the film deliver a natural and simple performance.

Finally, A No-Hit No-Run Summer might not be a masterpiece. However, the film finds a way to be really touching and full of meaning for any North Americans who understand the important place that sports in general occupies in this continent's culture. Although we can see the end coming right at us, we're moved by the way how Martin's dad evolves by making every imaginable effort to be devoted to his son as much as he's devoted to his boring job of accountant. Hence, we wonder how much will Martin remember his summer of 1969 (aside from the fact that a man walked on the moon)? Moreover, given that the film is adapted from a 2004 (the year the Expos were moved out of Montreal) novel by Marc Robitaille, many people would be glad to see it as a tribute to the Expos.

Rating: 3.5/5

Origin:Canada (2008)
Length:110 minutes
Genre:Sport drama
Screenplay:Marc Robitaille
Director:Francis Leclerc
Starring:Patrice Robitaille, Pier-Luc Funk, Jacinte Laguë and Roy Dupuis

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