- 2 hr 8 min
Sugar is a highly emotional and deeply moving coming-of-age sports drama film, released in 2013. Written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the movie beautifully portrays the struggle of young Latino baseball players in the United States. The story revolves around a 19-year-old Dominican Republic baseball player, Miguel "Sugar" Santos (played by Algenis Perez Soto), who gets selected to play for a minor league team in the United States. He leaves behind his family and friends in the Dominican Republic to chase his dreams of playing in the Major League Baseball (MLB) one day. Sugar finds himself in the small town of Bridgetown, Iowa, where he has to adapt to a completely new language, lifestyle, culture and playing style. Sugar is hosted by an American family who mentors and guides him in his initial days in the US. He tries his best to settle in and make most of the opportunity he has received. The family introduces him to a young girl, Anne (Shenae Grimes-Beech), who becomes a close friend. However, Sugar's initial euphoria and comfort levels are quickly replaced by the realization that things are not going to be easy. Being a foreigner, Sugar faces a lot of racism, discrimination, and bigotry from not only his teammates, but also the locals. His team-mates are not very welcoming to him and he is assigned to live with a slightly older player, Jorge (played by Rayniel Rufino), who is already disillusioned with the notion of making it big in baseball. He is regularly subjected to racial comments, stereotypes, and other forms of abuse, which leads him to seek solace and comfort in Anne. As Sugar's performances on the field decline, he faces a moral dilemma of his own. He has to make tough decisions, both personally and professionally. He feels the pressure of being a role model and carrying the weight of the expectations of his family and friends back home. Sugar, who was earlier passionate about baseball and was willing to sacrifice everything for it, now starts questioning his own identity and purpose of pursuing his dreams. The film's second act, which primarily focuses on Sugar's life in Iowa, is slow-paced, sober, and intimate. It explores the uneasy balance that exists between race, class, loyalty and aspiration. Through Sugar's story, the movie addresses the common migrant-worker issues, which include isolation, loneliness, longing for home, language and cultural barriers, and the American Dream pursuit. The story gradually builds towards Sugar's final decision about his future. Will he choose to pursue his baseball dreams at any cost, or will he prioritize his personal life and safety instead? The climax of the movie is suspenseful, emotional, and memorable. Sugar is a movie that successfully tackles a subject that is not much talked about in mainstream cinema. It highlights the struggles of immigrant baseball players in the US and the toll their dream-chasing takes on them. It is a realistic and honest portrait of the issues that exist within the sport, and how they affect the lives of young athletes. The movie's greatest strength, however, is not in its acting performances (which are commendable, nonetheless) or its screenwriting, but in its beautiful cinematography and sound design. The picturesque shots of the Iowa countryside, the sounds of the baseball stadium, and the bustling city life are all very well captured. In conclusion, Sugar is a must-watch for all cinephiles who enjoy sports dramas and coming-of-age movies. It takes a nuanced approach to a familiar genre and delivers a heartwarming tale of hope, perseverance, and resilience. It is a film that will touch your heart and stay with you long after the credits have rolled.