Plenty of films have been made on the intensity and impossible expectations of professional sports, and the drive of those few who are able to ascend to professional sporting heights, but the first trailer for The Phenom acknowledges those films while diving even deeper into the dark side of ambition and men living vicariously through their progeny. To quote the film’s synopsis:
When major-league rookie pitcher Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons) can’t find the plate, he’s sent down to the minor leagues and begins sessions with an unorthodox sports psychologist (Paul Giamatti). In the process, hidden conflicts with his overbearing father (Ethan Hawke) are brought to light.
What we have, then, appears to be a power struggle of sorts for the soul and mind of Hopper. On one side is the destructive influence of Ethan Hawke as his father, administering physical, mental and emotional abuse in an effort to sharpen his son into a tool, presumably for his own glory. On the other side is Giamatti’s psychologist, who appears to be attempting to bring Hopper back from the brink of a total meltdown. The whole thing crackles with intensity and the threat of violence, like a menacing thunderstorm formation rolling into town. Hawke in particular radiates menace, right down to his severe flat-top haircut. It’s all summed up by one particular exchange:
“What were you doing to him out here?”
“Junior and me have rules … and I was remembering them to him.”
Watch the chilling trailer above.