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Traditional sports movies, particularly those about baseball, are usually suffused with nostalgia and sentimentality. A few, such as Field of Dreams, do it well enough to endear themselves. Most, like the utterly ridiculous For Love of the Game, are pure treacle.

But the new baseball film, Sugar (Azucar in Spanish), released to coincide with the start of the new major league season, avoids the usual traps and delivers a sobering and loving look at the national pastime.

Sugar follows a young Dominican pitching prospect, Miguel “Azucar” Santos, on his journey from his native island into the heart of middle America in an effort to make it to “the big show.” Written and directed by husband and wife team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the movie precisely captures the pace and rhythms of the game, timeless and rife with surprise.

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