Trouble with the Curve director Robert Lorenz brings out the best in Clint Eastwood
BEVERLY HILLS—There isn’t enough attention paid to prostate trouble in American film. Hence, we must congratulate director Robert Lorenz and his young protégé, a groaning Clint Eastwood, for bringing attention to this (almost) silent epidemic right there in the first scene of their new film, Trouble With the Curve (now playing).
For some reason, the director laughs when the Georgia Straight brings this up in a hotel room in Los Angeles, where Lorenz is doing promo work for his debut feature. “I wasn’t quite sure how Clint was gonna handle it,” he says with a chuckle. “It’s a funny way to open a movie, I guess.”
It is, but it’s important nonetheless, because it establishes that Eastwood’s character, Gus Lobel, a scout for baseball’s Atlanta Braves, is facing more than a few health issues in his declining years. He could go to Web MD for useless advice like the rest of us do, except that his eyesight is fading and, anyway, he thinks “the interwebs” is for young dorks.
Trouble With the Curve isn’t strictly about the horrors of growing old—Amy Adams as Lobel’s neurotic daughter and Justin Timberlake as her new flame give breadth to the low-key drama—but it is Eastwood and his various infirmities who dominates the film. “Clint didn’t shy away from that aspect,” Lorenz comments, appreciatively. “He made something of his age, you know?”
In a market more prone to giving us ultraviolent fascist cops in 3-D (something, ironically, that Eastwood was pioneering in two dimensions back in the ’70s), an autumnal family drama starring an 82-year-old crank must be a pretty tough sell.
“With someone like Clint, you have a huge advantage because he’s still relevant,” Lorenz reasons. “But one of the things that really appealed to me about the story is that it had broad appeal. It had younger people; it had baseball; it had comedy; and I do like the fact that it’s not just the traditional father-daughter issues they’re having: there’s also this role-reversal that’s going on where she’s now having to think about taking care of her father.”
There’s a similar dynamic going on behind the camera. Lorenz has been working with Eastwood since the mid-’90s, starting as assistant director and working his way up to the position of producer. At a conference for the movie, Eastwood admitted that directing himself was getting a little exhausting at his age (or “kind of stupid”, in his words). Lorenz was an obvious choice for a job like this one, and their relationship—“I know from experience what makes him comfortable so he can do his best,” he notes—yields some of the most vulnerable work the actor has ever done.
“I was anxious to get a chance to direct Clint because I think sometimes he sells himself short when he directs himself,” Lorenz says. “Certainly, in the editing room, he’s a modest guy and he never wants to showcase himself too much. I was anxious to get the opportunity to really show what he can do.” Or, going back to that first scene, what he can’t, at least without a little extra effort.
Watch the trailer for Trouble with the Curve.