Eastwood still shows fire in ‘Curve’
Keep your eyes on “Trouble with the Curve,” Clint Eastwood’s newest in which he rejects his previously stated vow to never act again. The role is made for him. Having gracefully aged past his action hero days as “a man with no name” and “Dirty Harry,” the new drama hits close to the heart, even as it stays stoic. It contains Academy Award accolades, especially considering the icon’s age and that he wears a performer’s hat, allowing himself to be directed by long-time film making comrade Robert Lorenz.
Eastwood plays Gus, a top baseball scout losing his sight. Having lived a rugged, rag tag, cheap life on back roads of the south searching for the next Babe Ruth or Sandy Koufax, the skills acquired over decades have been challenged by computer statistics that do not incorporate the prospect’s personality and penchants, which can only be seen by watching the prospect at bat.
Rapidly evolving throw-away society has devalued the worth of “old timers.” Eastwood lays out both sides of the equation. Gus’ eyesight has weakened but not his instinct for selecting future major league players.
Macho, gravel-voiced Eastwood hits one to the Award season green seats in center field depicting the plight and struggle of a senior not ready for retirement. Gus has built his sizzling reputation for selecting young talent based on exceptional observation skills, a touch of emotional acknowledgement and a bond of trust with the front office.
Counterbalancing this occupational, adapt-to-the-demand chronicle rivets his estranged family matters, which continually simmer from decades of miscommunication fueled by fears of not confronting difficult emotions and uttering the delicate words with which to express them. That’s where his crusty, crass and stubbornly cruel hearted “what’s best” did not include input.
Having lost his wife when his daughter Mickey (played by Amy Adams) was barely six, she has grown up facing an angry, distant, apparently rejecting father. She’s responded with a path opposite his cigar smoking, frugal, rural Carolina mountain independence; instead, she’s a confident, tailored-suit wearing, six day a week, big city workaholic corporate lawyer, whose business skill requires the art of manipulation and standing equal to swearing, smoking and farting senior partners.
Adams admirably brandishes and retorts harsh one-liners tit for tat with Eastwood, who adds, “I don’t need easier,” to his “make my day” ensemble. Though hard as concrete, both characters have vulnerabilities in their hard won styles of independence, which dictate “helping” only when necessary and until the individual has recovered and adjusted their sense of self confidence.
Eastwood himself has been known as a man of few personal words, so it’s difficult to separate Gus’ rascally self-serving traits from glimpses into the industry icon’s own life. “Curve’s” exceptional cast overcomes any scripting cliche excess. And, the story provides a somber insight into the emotions of father and daughter caught unintentionally inflicting emotional damage from not sharing insights into major family decisions.
Credit Adams for the ease with which she slides from corporate political correctness to strong determined female in a dusty road, flea bag motel, and smoky bar talent scouting lifestyle – particularly her pool game – ignoring any flattery, and blending with the culture, which she always thought was “the best seat” in the small baseball stadiums. She’s personally and emotively on target responding to her stubborn dad’s rash of one-liners. She serves them back with sarcastic ease. And, a few terse statements on growing older go into the can along with his “make my day” assortment.
Watch carefully for a final scene which has family irony. Clint’s son makes a cameo for brief advice from dad.