The one thing they love together is the one that pulls them apart.
Synopsis from IMDB: “Two young football players get caught up between the politics of the game and the politics of love.”
The overview above is pretty simplistic; however, the film itself it not so cut and dry. In Mario there are themes about coming out, happiness and life direction, love, self-knowledge and family. Mario is the star of his soccer team with ambitions and potential to go far with his career. Leon transfers into his team, and the universe seems to push them together.
Throughout the first part of the film, it seems like everything is saying that these two should be a couple. Even Mario’s father who doesn’t know he’s gay says things about how good they are together, and that “they are the perfect couple on the field.” As Mario runs with the ball, a coach shouts, “Find Leon!” But… sports.
When they finally kiss, the relationship isn’t linear. They go back and forth a bit before they get it together. The chemistry between the two was believable, and the acting made the whole thing real. I like the fact that there was a good amount of both character and relationship development which is often missing in films of this genre. I also admired that the plot moved forward without melodrama or insane acts on the part of either main character.
Something that Mario’s mother says, “most people spend their lives doing what they do second best.” This one statement pulls together a lot of this film, and it’s one of the things I found most relevant and intriguing. For Mario it would seem that soccer is what he does best, so one would think that would make him the happiest.
But it’s not so simple. Sometimes what you do best may not be the same thing that makes you happiest. Perhaps the quote should have been that most people spend their lives doing what makes them unhappy. The lesson would be that people need to find what truly makes them happy and go with that. Not so easy in some cases.
Homophobia in sports is explored in this film, and it reminds me a little of Handsome Devil or even The Pass to a degree. This concept has been examined several times in previous stories, but this one has its own unique lens. I think it’s interesting how seemingly non-homophobic people can still talk about how “drugs, sex with minors, gay stuff…” can all be lumped in together.
I appreciated the detail in the filmography. There was a scene where Mario needed to be vulnerable, and even his state of dress communicated his emotion. When Mario is alone, a wide shot of him running contrasts another when he doesn’t feel that way.
The ending of the film was abrupt though, and it took a few moments to set in. The more I think about it, the less unappealing I find the sudden end because I saw the message in it plain and clear. I enjoy a movie that makes you think about it a bit after it’s over.
Find what makes you happy – truly happy. Hold onto it and make it work somehow.
Available at TLAVideo