DVD Pick: Sugar – Metro US

DVD Pick: Sugar

Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Most people, non-fans included, believe that the Dominican Republic is an island baseball haven, with limitless raw talent available for the price of a plane ticket. The assumption has some factual basis — there’s an abundance of DR players in the major leagues —‚ but the reality is far more Darwinian.

Then there’s the hoary adage, “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” This, too, doesn’t always bear up to the rough scrutiny of a game where winning is everything, and where often, in the case of injuries, your real character is exhibited in how you cope with not playing.

These are the sour lessons in Sugar for Miguel “Sugar” Santos (Algenis Pérez Soto), a cocky kid from San Pedro de Macoris who, at the age of 19, attracts the interest of big-time scouts for his powerful knuckle curveball.

A star at home, his nickname is for his love of desserts (although he claims it’s for his way with the ladies). He heads to spring training in Arizona with dreams of milk and honey.

Sugar quickly learns there’s much more to the game than smoking a hot pitch across the plate. Algenis Pérez Soto delivers an affecting and empathetic performance in the title role.

Written and directed by the Half Nelson team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Sugar is a departure from movies of its kind in quietly observing that life is often a series of base hits rather than grand-slam homers. The film has few moments of high drama and the games played matter only in how they shape Soto’s character.

Extras include deleted scenes, featurettes and interviews with baseball players David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez and Sammy Sosa.

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