Vol. 17, No. 18 – May 29 – June 11, 2024 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
The Beautiful Game – Netflix

3 out of 4 palm trees
Breeze rating from 1 to 4 palm trees, 4 being best.

The Beautiful Game” is based on true events involving the Homeless World Cup, where homeless teams from around the world compete annually in a global street soccer tournament. Retired legendary professional football scout Mal Bradley (Bill Nighy) was the manager of England’s homeless football team for the twelve season and was training a group of five men to go to this year’s tournament in Rome, all expenses paid.

Through a chance encounter at a public park, Mal found ex-pro footballer Vinny Walker (Michael Ward) and hoped he could encourage Vinny to join the team. Vinny didn’t recognize Mal, but Mal recognized Vinny and had a connection to his past as well as knowing about his current life situation creating an ideal scenario for Vinny to join the team. Mal said it wasn’t about winning, that everyone cheered for everyone and that it was mainly about the individuals’ stories and second chances in life.

Mal invited Vinny to join them for some food and though a bit hesitant Vinny followed along. Mal was somewhat of a father figure to the five team members he chose to represent England, spending time with them eating at a local shelter and reminding them of basic things to keep their lives on track. Vinny felt joining the team could help get his life back on track with his wife and daughter, so headed to Rome with the rest of the team.

The 20th Homeless World Cup in Rome had teams from Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, Germany, Kenya, Argentina, Austria, Greece, Brazil, Pakistan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Japan, USA, England, South Africa and Italy. Players could only play one year and were not only there to represent their individual countries, but to represent homeless people around the world and bring awareness to the global issue of homelessness and how hope can transform lives.

Due to South Africa not arriving by the start of the tournament, they had to forfeit giving England three points and putting them in the lead. The next team that England faced was Portugal and Mal reminded the team to play with dignity, sportsmanship and discipline, though Mal himself was quite hot tempered with the ref and ended up getting a red card, resulting in him having to leave the game and have Vinny coach. England ended up winning against Portugal, but graciously allowed South Africa back in the tournament and was beaten by them.

England’s next opponent was Japan, but they had to win by eight points or more to get into the quarterfinals, which they did, where they would face Mexico, then Italy. If England won both those matches, they would get a rematch with South Africa in the finals. Between matches all the team members were given opportunities to explore Rome’s famous tourist destinations, something that would normally have been impossible due to the extreme limitations of homeless life.

The 2024 Homeless World Cup will be held September 21-28 in Seoul, first time in an Asian country, and will include 50 countries and over 500 participants. For more information about the actual Homeless World Cup visit www.homelessworldcup.org

Runtime: 2h 4m

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