Goal! The Dream Begins

2005

Action / Drama / Romance / Sport

30
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 77%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 54708

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Anna Friel as Roz Harmison
Sean Pertwee as Barry Rankin
David Beckham as Himself
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
876.59 MB
1280*534
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
1hr 58 min
P/S 6 / 37
1.8 GB
1920*800
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
1hr 58 min
P/S 0 / 31

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gradyharp 8 / 10

A Film with a Heart

Yes, this is another sports biography that offers a stage on which to play out the drama of the possibilities of dreams of the disenfranchised to become a reality. There are many, many films like this one and will doubtless be more: something there is about the 'team spirit' in the identity crisis of whether or not the poor (financially) new guy will be able to make the physical grade that draws large audiences. It is a formula and it often works despite weak structure and production values.

In the case of GOAL! THE DREAM BEGINS the viewer can put aside the doubts as to whether the film can make it on its own: this little low profile movie is well written (Mike Jefferies's story adapted for the screen by Adrian Butchart), well directed by Danny Cannon who knows well how to integrate live sports scenes into the drama, and consistently well acted by a troop of excellent actors, beginning with the very vibrant, handsome, and charismatic Kuno Becker ('Lucia, Lucia', 'Imagining Argentina', 'Once Upon a Wedding', 'English as a Second Language'), a 28 year old Mexican actor with an assured future in the lead role of Santiago. The supporting roles are classy contributions by the gifted Alessandro Nivola ('The Sisters', 'Junebug', 'The Clearing', 'Laurel Canyon', 'Love's Labour's Lost', 'Mansfield Park' etc), the very beautiful Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Marcel Iures, Tony Plana, Miriam Colon to mention only a few.

The story is secondary: as a child devotee of soccer Santiago immigrates illegally into the US with his family, grows up in Los Angeles working as a gardener, a dishwasher and other menial tasks while he consumes his spare time with developing his unique talents for soccer. Despite his father's insistence that he remain with the family business of gardening, Santiago is discovered by a scout on vacation from England, a bond develops and soon Santiago is off to Newcastle to pursue his dream of being a professional soccer player. The rest is pretty obvious - the ups and downs of an asthmatic kid competing in the wild world of sports. The star of the moment is Alessandro Nivola and despite the differences in their goals and social life they become friends who help each other in tender ways. There is of course a love interest, telephone calls and encouragement form Santiago's grandmother, adjustments to life in the UK -all altering the road toward Santiago's eventually attained goal.

The film is a bit lengthy (two hours) for the content, but then we understand this is the first of a trilogy, so get used to the story and the characters as they all remain constant for the next two installments. Whatever reservations you may have about sitting through another predictable sports movie just relax them: Kuno Becker alone is worth the time invested in this very fine little film. Grady Harp

Reviewed by sheppypants 9 / 10

Great movie - loads of fun

I think we would all likely agree the "rags to riches" story has been done to death by Hollywood. But, when someone comes along and gets it right the results can be truly excellent. Perhaps the best know of this genre is original "Rocky" movie. "Goal - the dream begins" gets it right, even though it is loaded with all the clichés that generally accustom this kind of movie. "Goal" has the whole recipe here - the unknown with the heart of gold, a unique and virtuosic talent, from a downtrodden and hopeless setting, the brooding and unsupportive parent who refuses to accept his child's potential, the doting grandparent who can see the potential that lies within our hero, the outsider who promises a way to fame and fortune and so on... But, like the first few "Rocky" movies, this one delivers without falling into the usual schmaltzy pitfalls.

Kuno Becker is very well cast as promising young player Santiago Munez. He is earnest, honest, and gives off that glow of burning desire to be the best. My only knock is that he doesn't quite physically look the part at times. When they line him up with real professionals he looks a touch slight and skinny, not quite boasting the musleclature of a professional athlete. The supporting cast works out well, too. No real complaints to offer as everyone seems to be a very good fit. Alessandro Nivola's dialect could use a spot of work, but no one outside of the UK will really pick up on this. I very much liked Marcel Irues as Newcastle United's Manager. He seemed to be a totally natural fit for the role and is a shoe in for the lead if someone ever decides to make the "Aime Jacquet story".

Where this movie really takes off is on the pitch, whether its a park in LA, the training ground in Newcastle, or St. James Park, the home of Newcastle United. The soccer scenes are exceptionally well done and look realistic. Real players feature prominently all over film, both on and off the pitch, and not just in walk on cameos, ie "Bend it like Beckham". The action is convincing, the tackles are crunching, and the goals are authentic and not the usual over the top spectacle (anyone remember Pele's winner from "Victory"?) Becker fits in well with the action scenes, though it's odd how you never really see all of Becker on the ball and usually just the waist up, kind of like they found some else to do all the little flicks and stepovers...

And for all those who say "it can't happen", I beg to differ. This movie is not fantasy. In fact, they could have made a biopic about a young Calgarian from Western Canada who somehow manages to make Bayern Munich, works his way up through the reserves, and in his premier season with the senior side wins the league and European Cup, makes the England side for World Cup 2002, and returns again to be the best England player in World Cup 2006! Maybe someday someone out there will make the "Owen Hargreaves story".

All in all, great stuff and I'm already looking forward to Goal 2 & 3.

Reviewed by stephen_thanabalan_fans 7 / 10

Scores and celebrates an impossibly new beginning for Football/Soccer Films

Until recently in history, whenever the world of film and the world of football combined, the results had often been negligible. With the GOAL! trilogy, a new precedent has been set for not only the genre, but also for the global sport itself, in terms of its plausibility in film towards its millions of demanding fans worldwide.

What this film does on the base level is to authentically present the game in high quality realism on the silver screen. However, that alone does not lend the film its credo. What makes it stand as the definitive standard bearer for films of football (given how every other sport especially American ones have managed to succeed filmwise- Bull Durham, Space Jam, Mighty Ducks, Remembering the Titans, etc) is that it carries many thematic layers on its back, pushes the frontiers of the genre with depth in the storyline, and finally aces in delivering a film that merges drama with sport, hype and overall verisimilitude in all content elements.

Obviously, every critic knows that the methodology of such a delivery is that it requires realism, and in cinematography especially- exactly what the film provides, and as a result gives it that definitive edge. Soccer films have never been entirely authentic, due to factors as diverse as action mapping, as well as dramatic scope. Furthermore, fans of the sport knew that nothing in cinema could ever approximate the sheer unscriptable drama of the actual game. Until GOAL! came along. When FIFA commissioned and granted the rights for the film to Danny Cannon, the air of realism was set in motion already, because albeit being fictional, it carries the authority of the universal game as fans know it because of its simulated parallels- real clubs, real superstars like Zidane, Raul, Shearer, etc, and realities of the game's actual hierarchies and bureaucracies have been surmised- reserves, leagues, scouts, agents and pressures.

AG Salomon/Adidas may have pumped advertising dollar into this film for placement of their teams (Newcastle United, Real Madrid) and sponsored players for marketing, but in a sense, when the result is this authentic, can you blame the corporations for input? In fact, fans might even have to thank them for producing what can be the first high profile and quality football film on record. Just recall the maudlin world of football film until the recent revival of films of the genre, which incidentally mirror the revolution of football and its branding that began in the 1990s and the likes of superstars like Beckham. In recent years, this revival has seen film entries usher in on the commercial success of football, from 1996's 'Fever Pitch' to 2002's Bend it like Beckham, but never has a film about the game itself been done the way it has been done here, in such centrality.

In fact, the very dearth of such films is an understatement and may well be the fuel for the GOAL! trilogy's impending success. Even football legend PELE alluded to the paucity of football films- or at least those of the simple concept explaining structures of wealth, class and the disparities of rich and poor in congruence with football. The plot by Butchart and Jeffries in this film stands out because of this - featuring the barrios of S.America; the institution of organized football religion in England, and a rag to riches drama, where Becker's character combines innocence and disappointments with success and 'aspiracion' in true underdog fantasy. The script is far from genius but it has depth- genuine troughs (poverty, death, rejection) and hurdles- competition, adaption and temptation (the clubbing scenes were almost a revealingly accurate précis given footballers' reputations in Europe). In fact, perhaps the only inaccurate part was about how Becker signed without a work permit and contract given he had to have been playing in at least 70% of all matches with his International side. Nonetheless, the film manages at the same time to convey the global scale of this billion dollar world obsession with the fantasy without compromising the sheer magnitude, and challenges of it all. Throw in all the other elements ranging from romance with Anna Friel's pragmatic nurse character to the gamut of football archetypes (Nivola as the playboy with conscience, Iures as the stoic gaffer, Dillane as the gentlemanly scout, the mercenary agents, an even a Souness-like hardman), on top of the fact that footage of actual matches in England has been seamlessly edited in, and you can see why the film accounts for a thorough representation of the sport. Perhaps even most exciting of all, the film shows behind the scenes footage of the teams and stars- training, grounds, gyms, dressing rooms, city streets, pubs, Toon Geordies.

How many people remember a football film that was done this way? More often than not football films have been towed by comedy or played side appendage to broader issues. From Thorold Dickinson's Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939) about crime, to biopics like Yesterday's Hero (1979), or Gregory's Girl (1981) about gender, or even Eran Riklis's Cup Final (1991) about the PLO in war, most films have broader issues. The rest survive on humour, Mike Bassett (2001), being the typical example. GOAL! scores and sets the precedent for the genre from now on. In fact, there has been a rush of football films since, well accounted for at Cannes or the Berlinale festival, and probably well into World Cup 2006.

Films at Cannes included 'The Longest Penalty in the World' and "Romeo and Juliet Get Married" - a strained marriage between a Barcelona fan and a Real Madrid fan while Berlinale had 'Offside' an Iranian film. The market for soccer films has always been there, its just a case of whether filmmakers could break the deadlock with quality and authenticity, and GOAL! could well be the catalyst for the floodgates to open.

By Stephen Thanabalan

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