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The Football Monologues film review

★★★★

Written and Directed by: #GregCruttwell

Film review by: Brian Penn

 
The Football Monologues (2021)

We continually tell ourselves it's just a game; and too all intents and purposes it is. But ask any football fan and they will admit deep down inside it means much more than that. This charming new film by Greg Crutwell proves why this simple game invented on the playing fields of Eton still has a profound effect on people's lives. The 'Football Monologues' does pretty much what it says on the tin. Seven characters deliver their own story in a series of teasing vignettes unfolding over 90 minutes. Sympathetic editing allow the characters equal screen time and prominence within a gently building narrative. Each one has a cosy and familiar glow; fans will quickly recognise them as somebody they know.


There is Frank (Brian Bovell), a world weary cab driver and part time scout. He's seen it all as a player and manager in the lower leagues; and now puts in the hard yards unearthing new talent. Lucy (Siobhan Bevan) is a talented player who caught the bug from her football mad Dad. But Lucy is torn between the game she loves and doing girly stuff with her mates. Mark (Samuel Anderson) is an established first team player under pressure from youngsters breaking through. He fears a loss of form and confidence, vital commodities for any player.


Gordon (Stephen Boxer) is a walking cliché who coaches an under 12s Sunday league team. But nobody can fault his passion and commitment as a big cup game approaches. Kimberley (Emma Amos) is an entrepreneur running a football club and making an impression with fans, players and the team manager in particular. Colin (Mark Hadfield) is a proud and dignified referee who officiates at junior level. He happily confronts angry parents who dispute every decision; it's all part of the game after all? And finally we have Amelia (Candida Gubbins), a lady who has just discovered the beautiful game. She follows local club Dulwich Hamlet because they need her support more than Arsenal or Manchester United.


The film offers an articulate and perceptive view of how the game operates at grass roots level. It also highlights the disparity and division that feels wider than ever. The inequities of a game drowning in money at the top end are plain to see. But where it really hits home is the simple portrayal of lives enriched by football. Wherever our interest in the game takes us; be it as a supporter or active participant, we gain something important because it adds colour and dimension to a routine existence. As good as it looks on screen the ‘Football Monologues’ is better suited to the stage. The characters are crying out for feedback and a live reaction; something only the theatre could provide. But it remains one of the best films made about football for quite some time.


UK CINEMA RELEASE DATE Friday 29th October

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