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42 (12A)

Directed by Brian Hageland/Three stars

Sixty-two years since Jackie Robinson starred in his own biopic, this film provides a reverential homage to the first black baseball player to breach the colour bar.

Opening with an archival reminder of the times, we're introduced to the Brooklyn Dodgers manager (Harrison Ford) stating that "the colour of money is green."

Determined to break the apartheid-style leagues, he seeks out the best black player, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), and stresses to him that it will take a lot of courage to convince everyone of his abilities, including his own team.

As such, the film's a telling reminder of a time the US presided over a racist system while proclaiming it was the land of the free around the world. That is clearly still relevant today and every bigot should be forced to experience the vile rant by a rival manager (Alan Tudyk), sledging Robinson with the N-word over and over, until breaking point.

Yet Robinson stands tall, a reminder of human dignity as momentum builds, critics are confounded and the crowds begin to sympathise.

The film has been criticised as patronising, since it rarely reveals anything about the man behind the bleachers. Yet it's an emotional reminder of courage in the face of vicious adversity.

Jeff Sawtell


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