The Fan (1996) based on the novel by Peter Abrahams, is a psychological thriller where crazy fan goes to the extreme of murder to make sure that he favorite baseball player wins.
Gil Renard is a down and out knife salesman who missed his big chance of being a famous baseball player if only in his mind, decides to focus his empty life on his favorite player Bobby Rayburn played by Wesley Snipes and who has just been transferred over St. Francisco Giants.
De Niro does an excellent portrayal of a crazed killer, we see him in the beginning with a temper and we do not wonder why he is divorced. I do love how the film shows this broken man who has nothing left to live for and thus consumes himself with baseball the only dream he had but was never good enough. Since he did not have the opportunity to play ball he lives vicariously through Rayburn.
One of the best scenes in the movie is where Gil Renard allegedly saves Rayburn’s son from drowning. This was all set up by Renard which incidentally means fox in French.. By setting this all up Renard has the opportunity to get into Rayburn’s house and have a talk with him.
When Rayburn explains to him that the game of baseball does not mean as much to him as his family Renard simply cannot understand it, as baseball means everything to him. When Rayburn further tells him that he doesn’t play for the fans he plays for himself, Renard is enraged. I love the line that Rayburn says something like this, ” The fans don’t care about who you are… but you are still you whether you win or lose, however they will drop you when you are not living up to their standards, that is why I play for me.” (note this was paraphrased because I cannot remember the exact words). Renard continue to probe him by saying you must be happy your competitor was murdered suggesting he could win now because he has no real competition. Rayburn adamantly say no he is not happy. Renard who has killed the player (Primo) cannot understand him and tries to get him to be honest and admit that he is.
When Rayburn will not admit to this heinous feeling, Renard uses Rayburn’s family against him, he kidnapped Rayburn’s son out of revenge as he feels that Rayburn does not appreciate what a loyal fan he is (murdering his nemesis).
The ball scene where Rayburn has to score a home run at all cost to please Renard is so powerful and emotional. You can see the emotion and strain in Snipes’s face, incredible acting. I commend both actors with an excellent performance.
The ending of the movie I will not divulge you must see it for yourself.