3 Feet Short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #GiselleGeney

Written by: #GiselleGeney

Starring: #MaykolSantiagoCapachoPerales, #LuisEnriqueYanez

Film review by: William Hemingway


3 Feet film poster

In Colombia there is only one religion – football. Pride in the local and national teams can be stronger here than anywhere else in the world and the vehemence of the supporters second to none. The strength of feeling from the fans can be so powerful in fact, that woe betide any player who messes things up on the pitch and causes their team to lose. Death threats are not unheard of, just ask Carlos Sanchez after he got himself sent off in the 2018 World Cup; and the Colombian mafia even went one step further in 1994 when they executed Andres Escobar for scoring an own goal that saw the national team leave the competition. But, despite such grave workplace pressures, it is still every young boy's dream to grow up and play for his team and score the winning goal against every opponent. 10 year old Gonzalo (Perales) is no different.

Rector Ramon (Yanez), however, has other ideas. He believes that pride lies in punctuality, cleanliness and a well turned out pair of shoes. His devotion to duty is such that he lines up the children in his school every morning and insists on a military style inspection, leaving no hand unturned and no foot unregarded. It's just Gonzalo's luck then, that he's been kicking his ball about all morning and has scuffed and muddied his shoes along the way. Unsurprisingly he is kept in at break for detention and is taught the error of his messy ways, all the while looking wistfully out of the window as his pals get on with the beautiful game outside. Gonzalo is then warned, should he turn up with dirty shoes once more, then his ball will be confiscated for the rest of the year. The pressure is on.

Such is the set-up for Giselle Geney's family friendly affair 3 Feet, which plays around gently with themes of responsibility, authority and self-image. Gonzalo is a likeable kid who loves his mother and generally does as he is told; you know he is being met with unfair expectations that it's unlikely he'll be able to uphold, and you really feel for him on his journey of responsibility, but can he just stop kicking that darn football about long enough to get himself safely to school? Probably not.

And so, like Gonzalo, we forget about how it's all going to turn out and we just have some fun along the way. There's some hectic action scenes shot on a handheld camera as Gonzalo chases through the streets of his hometown. There are pauses for reflection as he takes in the beauty and tradition of where he lives. There's even time for an animated fantasy as Gonzalo believes he is taking on everyone in the marketplace before scoring a belter past the butcher. Everything is wonderfully told from a young boy's point of view with each style fitting in to how he is feeling at that point. It is a fun, and at times perilous, journey that has us rooting for him at every turn, as though we are his supporters cheering from the stands.

The direction fits in beautifully with Gonzalo's story, mirroring his actions and emotions and allowing us to experience with him the joy and freedom he feels when he has a ball at his feet. In contrast, the periods of conflict are tense and introspective and we can see on Gonzalo's face at all times just what he is thinking. Even with a running time of just under fifteen minutes, 3 Feet takes us through all the emotion of a 90 minute match and still manages to keep us biting our nails through a last-minute figurative penalty shoot-out which will decide the young footballer's fate.

And while we all know that football and clean shoes aren't actually life or death matters, in Gonzalo's world they might as well be.