Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Movie Review: Goal!

Early this year my son Jacob insisted I go to see this movie with him (he'd already seen it with his Mum or auntie or something). We used to go to movies a lot more; now we are more likely to go watch football games. His story now is that I didn't really want to see Goal; that I thought it would be a bit lame and kiddie, but I can't remember that. I do know that after we did see it together I wanted to see it again, and did, several times. Now Jacob owns the video, and I have watched it many times. There's a few things that propelled me into full-blown football tragedy, and I'd have to count this movie as one of them.

It's about football and the lead character begins in poverty. In terms of plot that's all I need to say because anyone familiar with the idea of plot can pretty much write the script from there. The plot has existed for over two thousand years. Yeah, he makes it, yeah, he works it out with his hard-nosed but loving father, and yeah he gets the girl. Of course there are temporary disappointments along the way to punctuate the drama. La la la.

I know the world of cinema is full of experimentation, post-modern crap, 'realism' etcetera. But the thing is this traditional plot structure still works better than anything our post 60s geniuses have managed to come up with.

And within the age-old formula, this movie just works. I've showed it to a few people, and those who will never watch a football game again love it as much as those who love our game.

The lead man (Santiago Munez, played by Kuno Becker) is not all that brilliant, but is a spunk and somehow perfectly adequate - he is supposed to be a nobody who makes it after all. When it comes to performance it is everyone around the lead that make this movie a real treat, from the leading lady (Nurse Emmerson, played by Anna Friel - also a complete hottie) to the smallest bit parts, like the old guy on the bench of an amateur match back in Los Angeles, or the kids kicking a ball around in Newcastle. The detail of casting and direction is beautiful, and makes the movie look like something produced by Brits or Ozzies rather than Yanks.

The secondary blokes all stand out. The ex-scout, Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) probably deserves the greatest accolades, for a pure, believeable performance with great subtlety and naturalism, but frankly the same can be said of the Newcastle coach and the playboy star player of Newcastle (sorry, don't know the actors' names and they're not on the back of the DVD case). All of the bit parts are exquisite, and I love this sort of detail.

Cameo performances by Zidane, Beckham, Raul and the entire Newcastle team are fun too, but don't dominate the proceedings.

The movie reflects, quite consciously I think, the drama and virtue, as well as some of the irony, of our game. The Spanish is subtitled, while the bulk of the action in England is peppered with accents from all over the world, as is appropriate enough. Meanwhile the main setting represents well (I think - I've never been there) the highly idiosyncratic texture of the 'Toon', 'where the Jordies live'. All this background stuff is just lovely and warm and fun.

Goal also has a brilliant sound track, which I'm sure is one of the reasons it is so re-watchable, beautifully spliced in among the scenes. I have to say this because it's true, but do it now with an uncomfortable knot in my keyboard after discovering that Noal Gallagher, the lead singer of Oasis, who provides most of the music, is a complete twat.

If you haven't seen Goal, whether you are a tragic or not, just go and get it from the video shop. It has a pretty much rock-solid guarantee of entertaining. Brilliant for kids, and for kids into football it contains some pretty good advice for young players as well as just straight inspiration. Nine out of ten.



Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I was afraid that, given what I had read about Goal!, it would just be too hokey for my tastes .. It's now among the list of my favorite sports movies

October 25, 2006 5:36 am  
Anonymous Djecker said...

Geordies. But yeah, the so schmaltzy, yet I enjoyed it.

November 12, 2006 11:39 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks for the correction Djecker. I was in the dark about that one as I wrote it.

November 13, 2006 6:44 am  

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