Opening 27 Oct 2005
Under difficult circumstances (rain, darkness, border controls with dogs) Mexican Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker), his father Hernan, a younger brother, and his grandmother cross the Rio Grande into the U.S. Ten years later Hernan is a gardener for rich people in Los Angeles, helped by a crew of other Mexicans including his son. Whereas Hernan dreams of his own truck, Santiago dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. Encouraged by British talent scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane), he flies to Newcastle to play for Newcastle United. There are stumbling blocks along the way: his father disowns him; he misses the ball on the soccer field; he makes headlines in bed with a bevy of naked girls; he has asthma attacks. His support comes from granny (long distance), Glen and girlfriend Roz.
Goal! will appeal to the average cinema consumer. The storyline fits a known pattern. Becker is a good-looking actor, probably now even more good looking since he underwent soccer training for five weeks before filming. Why this film, now? Director Danny Cannon says that it’s the first Hollywood film about soccer, in spite of many films on football, basketball, baseball and even golf. We in Hamburg, of course, can think of several soccer films, e.g., just this September there was the Spanish Longest Penalty Shot in the World at the Hamburg film festival and, of course, the ultimate soccer film: The Miracle of Bern. It might come from Hollywood, but I wouldn’t consider this a U.S. film. It starts in Mexico, goes shortly to L.A. and lands for the bulk of the film in Newcastle, a picturesque town (yes, actually quite nice) in England, all made with the expressed support of the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA). Cannon could film in the Newcastle stadium with professional soccer players, e.g., David Beckham. Considering that the 2006 World Championship is not until this summer in Germany, you might wonder why the film opened so soon. Do not despair. This is Part I of a trilogy. In Part II Santiago goes to play with Real Madrid, and Part III shows him in his biggest triumph at – surprise, surprise – the World Championship in Germany. All this, you bet, to appear in European cinemas parallel to the games this summer. It’s all about making money, marketing, merchandising, which we can forgive, if it raises interest for professional soccer in the U.S. In my audience there were 10-year-old members of FC Teutonia soccer team from Altona. Achmed and Jeffrey from the group said, “We’ve never lost a game,” but otherwise they were underwhelmed, probably because the film started late, was in English, and is geared towards an adult audience. (Becky Tan)