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Review of Netflix’s The Beautiful Game

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Widower Mal (Bill Nighy) has a long career in football (soccer). For the last decade, he has been training a group of homeless men for the Homeless World Cup games. Only two of them are soccer players, Cal (Kit Young) and Kevin (Tom Vaughn Lawlor), until Mal sees Vinny (Micheal Ward) playing with a ball from a children’s soccer game.  Impressed by what he sees Vinny doing on the field, Mal invites Vinny to be part of his team.  Initially, Vinny turns him down.  He is not homeless.  Vinny has a job and he has a family. Only Vinny does not actually live with them, he lives in his car.  However, after a talk with his young daughter, he changes his mind and heads to Rome with Mal and the others.

The Beautiful Game is based on several real life stories of homeless men and women who took part in and still do in the Homeless World Cup.   The sports drama is good, and I rooted for many of the players. However, there is something lacking in this Netflix film and that is the background of the players themselves. We do not get much of it beyond a few tidbits.  Nathan (Collum Scott Howells) was a heavy drug user who got kicked out of his family.  Now clean and using methadone to control his addiction, he hopes the games will help him reunite with his family.   Then, there is Cal, who dreams of winning the games and that it will lead to him being able to be with his son without supervision. And a Syrian refugee who must call England home who misses the life he had as a barber.   

While nice to learn all of this, sadly, the film dives more into the games and the road blocks to these wins, then in character development and drama; because by the time of the “big” reveal about Vinny happens, it does not have the great impact it could have had.  Still, I liked this light sports drama just not as much as I hoped.

Review of Netflix’s The Beautiful Game
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