Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flick of The Day: When Saturday Comes

Sport and football in particular is something you would imagine naturally lends itself to the big screen. It is replete with action, drama and twist endings. It is then a wonder that there have been so few great films about football, if any. Generally the rule appears to be the less actual sport played on screen, the more likely the film is to succeed as drama. Though the recent Goal! Trilogy managed to fail on both counts. In general, the Venn diagram between skilled footballers and talented actors has a very small intersection. It is a pleasure then to report a very decent film about the game and today's flick of the day, When Saturday Comes
Starring a young Sean Bean, an actor who has for so long been typecast as a bad guy in American movies and now earning long overdue plaudits in HBO's Game of Thrones, this is the story of a talented young footballer called Jimmy Muir. Muir is given two choices when he leaves school, either work in  a factory or down a coal mine though he harbours dreams of playing professionally. Fast forward a few years and Jimmy is working for a brewery while playing at an amateur level. He lives at home with his parents including his overbearing drunk of a father and an impressionable younger brother.Sheffield is a hard industrial town and the film pulls no punches in documenting Jimmy's life. By chance, Jimmy is spotted by Ken Jackson played by the late great Pete Postlethwaite,  a talent scout for the local big club, Sheffield United. Jimmy has one last chance to redeem his life and perhaps make up for lost time.
Bean shines as the hidden talent desperate for a chance to shine. Perhaps something that sets this apart from so many other rags to riches sports dramas is the emphasis on working class life in a grubby industrial city which gives it a feeling of authenticity. If anything, this is revelled in too much with every second person an alcoholic with a gambling problem or a housewife broken by life. It is possible to thrive in this environment and writer/director Maria Giese ladles the school of hard knocks too heavily. That said, there is much to enjoy and Postlethwaite and Emily Lloyd excel in their supporting roles. Lloyd in particular makes you wonder what might have been. At one time, she was a promising talent who starred in films with Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. Her career has been blighted by mental illness over the past twenty years however and she hasn't acted in a feature since 2008. A talent all the same though.
All in all, a worthy addition to the genre and an enjoyable film. Bean and Postlethwaite deliver strong performances and but for some heavy handed direction, could have been so much more. Well worth a look.

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