Dir. Michael Hoffman. US.2005. 87mins.
Despite an engagingperformance by Michael Keaton, this dramatic comedy lacks an emotional heft tomatch its sophisticated premise and milieu. Exploring the existential crisis ofa Broadway playwright and baseball fanatic, Game 6 goes to interestingplaces but never gels as a whole. Screening at Sundance in the Premieressection it will likely find a place on US television, potentially even ESPN'ssports-inspired features strand.
Novelist Don DeLillo wrotethe screenplay and the hand of literature weighs heavily on the dialogue andexposition. It tells of singular day in the life of Nicky Rogan (Keaton) a NewYork dramatist whose career, marriage and affair are slipping through hisfingers. On this day his universe has narrowed down to two points of light: theopening night of his new play and the pivotal game of US baseball's WorldSeries. The two events are inextricably bound: if Nicky's beloved Boston RedSox win, the play will be a success. If the Sox lose, the play' Pushing mattersto a further extreme is news that the city's most feared critic has his knivesdrawn for Nicky.
Director Hoffman is in thethrall of the text of his literary screenwriter with the result that this filmoften feels more like a reading than a motion picture. If the production hadbeen stylised in some way to accentuate the philosophising it might haveworked. (Indeed, there are many ways in which this script might be the basisfor a quite good play about the symmetries between baseball and New York'stheatrical world.)
But, despite some strangeperipheral goings-on, the film is grounded in a convincing period locale - it's1986, when the Red Sox squandered a commanding lead in the World Series andwent down in ignominy. That the audience is expected to come to the pictureforearmed with this piece of US sporting history suggests this film will nottravel beyond the US.
That said Michael Keatondelivers one of his most engaging performances as the kinetic Nicky, a man whohas spent his career convincing himself that he is a craftsman not an artistbut is now beginning to think he might be an artist but not one for the historybooks. In other words, he's worried he might be the Boston Red Sox: good butnot good enough to seize the brass ring.
The supporting cast is lessengaging not because of the performances or the quality of the actors - BebeNeurith as his lover, Catherine O'Hara as his estranged wife - but because theyare woefully underwritten.
Most problematic is RobertDowney, Jr as the critic. He's seen only in glimpses -- in his bath, in hisboudoir - through the first hour of the film as he prepares himself - like apitcher in the bullpen, or an actor in his green room - for the opening night'sevisceration. He seems a curious casting choice for a character whose purposeis more symbolic. Audiences who read the opening credits will be craning theirnecks for a view; his absence from the narrative is ultimately a distraction.And his 11th hour revelation is 10 hours too late.
Prod co: Serendade Films
Int'l sales: Serenade Films, (1)310 452 3335
Exec prods: Michael Nozik, DavidSkinner, Bryan Iler
Prods: Amy Robinson, GriffinDunne, Leslie Urdang, Christina Lurie
Scr: Don DeLillo
Cine: David M. Dunlap
Prod des: Bill Groom
Ed: Camilla Toniolo
Main cast: Michael Keaton, RobertDowney, Jr., Griffin Dunne, Bebe Neuwirth, Catherine O'Hara