We have to decide whether to win or look good!
Director : Kasper Barfoed
Cast : Ulrich Thomsen, Mikkel Følsgaard, Cyron Melville, Esben Smed Jensen, Henning Jensen and Gustav Dyekjær Giese
Those of you that have read this site before will know that I love football, whether it be watching it on TV or supporting my local side, Lincoln City. However, one thing that few people know about me is that I didn’t really get into it until 1993, aged 9. My now brother-in-law decided to teach me how to play Subbuteo one day after previously not really being interested in football, and it went from there.
My first major tournament as a fan was the 1994 World Cup, played in America, but before that I missed out on arguably one of the biggest international underdog stories, arguably only rivaled by Greece’s victory in the 2004 tournament. Denmark are not a big name in world football. It’s never a surprise to see their name at the international stage, but realistically they are usually one of those sides that are just there to make up the numbers…..and before someone says that, I apply that same statement to my native England as well.
Unlike a lot of films based on sporting events, I already know that Denmark win. I usually like to go in blind to these sorts of films but I just happen to know that they had won.
The Danes are widely accepted as one of the best teams in terms of entertainment and pure ability by near enough everyone. Following on from their old coach leavnig, Richard Møller Neilsen (Thomsen) is keen to take over, but he is denied as the Football Association has little interest in hiring someone who isn’t a foreigner. Richard does eventually get placed in charge of the nation, much to the anger of pretty much everyone and eventually results in the Laudrup brothers eventually refusing to play.
After failing to qualify for the 1992 European Championships, Richard is likely to be sacked until Yugoslavia are disqualified because of their political situation, with Denmark being invited to take their place.
No-one other than Richard believes that they will achieve anything in the tournament, but things start to happen when he eventually wins over the players.
A decent sports movie?
There are some interesting directoral choices employed in this film, whether it be the subtitles sometimes randomly switching from the top of the screen to the bottom, and there use of clips from the real life matches used at the same time as studio made footage. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea but it makes the visual aspect of the film very inconsistent. For example, during a penalty shoot out they go from the very grainy real footage to focusing on the film-made footage of the Danish players in crisp, high definition display. It’s really distracting sometimes.
The cast of characters in the team are very interchangeable. Other than the Laudrup brothers and Kim Vilfort, you’re not given a look at the other characters. For example, Peter Schmeichel was arguably the best goalkeeper in the world during the 1990s, not that you’d know that as I’m not even confident that the character has a line of dialogue in the movie. Granted, I know in a 90something minute movie you can only have so much development, but the focus on so few characters means that it is very hard to get behind the team as a whole.
In a movie where I already knew that they were going to win the tournament in the end (and for a change knowing that based on fact), there has to be at least something that makes it even slightly seem there that is any tension. Had I not already known that they were going to win then there would be absolutely nothing to suggest that this wasn’t a probability.
That’s not to say that the movie is without merit, it is still a relatively entertaining movie and I was never bored. It’s relatively well acted throughout by all concerned and there are some decent bits of cinematography, but ultimately the lack of any real tension fails to really win me over.
The best movies based on real life events are those where the movie doesn’t make it obvious what the final outcome was going to be, but this is not one of these films.
It’s well acted and looks decent in some shots, but ultimately the lack of any real tension makes it hard to get invested in this 90odd minute movie. You’re also not really given many reasons to like any of the characters other than Vilfort.
Just a complete meh.