I admire Moneyball for telling a story of baseball and statistics without embellishing with a romantic subplot – unless you include the professional chemistry between Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his number-crunching number two, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). I also admire its ability to make that story engaging, with its confident approach defined by crisp cinematography and dialogue alike.
As much as I admire Moneyball, I didn’t actually like it all that much. Given that it’s firmly set in the hyper-masculine milieu of professional baseball, the lack of relevant female characters is disappointing yet forgivable. But that’s not what left me feeling underwhelmed; rather it was the philosophy the script espoused.
Beane succeeds by ploughing ahead with a strategy in which he has unquestioned faith, neither acceding to a compromise in line with his colleague’s traditional methods (understandable) nor adequately justifying his methods (less understandable). Objections that would seem pertinent to a film called Moneyball – eg that a player’s worth is sometimes in his public image for marketing purposes, not winning games – are never raised. The film argues success comes from stubbornly insisting upon your way until it works. Accurate? Perhaps, but it left a sour taste.