“Field of Dreams” thrives because there is nothing threatening its plot from happening. Yes, the conflict of the family potentially losing their home and the field is a short-lived, slightly-mentioned burden, but ultimately the main factor that could stop Ray from building a baseball field for ghosts to play on is lack of interest for the cause. Coincidentally, that’s the main thing that stops one from appreciating baseball in general, with potential fans turned off by the slow-paced nature of the sport. But “Field of Dreams” is a movie made about passion and made with passion, a story where the collective love for the subject is so palpable is nearly socks you in the head like a hurling foul ball.
While no other character is as vibrantly painted as the love child patriarch Ray, played by Kevin Costner, other actors still live on vibrantly through their roles. Amy Madigan is a delight as Annie Kinsella, a lovingly supportive matriarch but fiercely combative opponent to anyone who defies her. James Earl Jones channeling the annoyed genius of writer and baseball fan Terrance Mann excellently, clearing channeling Jones’ own appreciation for the sport. And Ray Liotta, who would later be known best for his loud mouth gangster Henry Hill in “Goodfellas,” delivers a soft and delicate performance as Shoeless Joe Jackson, eschewing all the stoic gracefulness of a man that wears only socks.
The only weakness apparent in “Field of Dreams” is its opening. It’s a two-minute-long autobiographic summary from Ray, detailing his relationship with his dad, his time spent in Berkeley as a flower child, and his undying love for baseball. It’s helpful information, but stands in stark contrast with a movie so deeply rooted in mysticism, where the main catharsis results from not knowing the answers to questions, but knowing that the answers don’t matter.
Thankfully, this error is quickly forgotten, as “Field of Dreams” quickly plunges us deep into its heartland fable of familial ties and enduring Americana. It constantly breezes with nostalgia but not in an obnoxious way. The past is used here as a legitimate plot device, a necessary means to achieving true growth for humans and ghost baseballers alike. They either conflict with their past or worry what their past may end up being. The corn fields used to make the field may have turned to dust, but this movie will stand the test of time.