Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Next Goal Wins (English) Movie Review: NEXT GOAL WINS is an entertaining flick, based on a real event

NEXT GOALS WINS is the story of a coach coaching a ‘team of losers’. In 2001, American Samoa’s football team suffers a humiliating defeat after they lose 31–0 to Australia. 10 years later, in 2011, a hot-headed Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), is asked to join as the coach of American Samoa by the American Soccer Association. With no other option, he takes up the job reluctantly; or else, he would have got fired. His aim is to get American Samoa to perform well at the 2014 World Cup qualification, scheduled to be held three weeks later. But the American Samoa is at the bottom in the world rankings. Since its inception, it hasn’t scored a single goal ever. Thomas is frustrated as he realizes that the team lacks discipline and techniques to play the game. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

NEXT GOALS WINS is based on true events. The story is fascinating. Taika Waititi and Iain Morris’ screenplay is simple and light. The writers pepper the film with lots of funny moments and also some touching scenes at the end. The dialogues are conversational and also hilarious.

Taika Waititi’s direction is neat. He keeps the focus on the story and also doesn’t go into a biopic zone of sorts, that is, the story focuses only on American Samoa’s performance in the 2011 match and how they prepped for it. Hence, the duration is kept in check at 104 minutes. The humour quotient works big time and it’s amusing to see the coach getting frustrated while trying to teach the game to the players. There’s also a lovely message towards the end.

On the flipside, the makers set expectations high with the priest (Taika Waititi) assuring viewers in the beginning that they won’t be able to believe that the events, shown in the film, happened in reality. Although the event is inspiring, it’s not as unbelievable as was promised. The film stagnates in the middle and also, it reminds of films like CHAK DE INDIA [2007], JHUND [2022] etc. Lastly, it gets a very late release in India.

Speaking of performances, Michael Fassbender is superb and apt for the part. Oscar Kightley (Tavita; president of Football Federation American Samoa) is adorable. Kaimana (Jaiyah) is too good as the transgender player. Her track adds a nice touch to the goings-on. David Fane (Ace; previous coach), Elisabeth Moss (Gail; Thomas’ ex-wife) and Semu Filipo (Rambo; cop) leave a mark. Uli Latukefu (Nicky Salapu) is introduced in a heroic fashion but doesn’t have much to do. Beulah Koale (Daru Taumua) and Ioane Goodhue (Smiley) don’t get much scope.

Michael Giacchino’s music is appropriate. Lachlan Milne’s cinematography is spectacular. The lensman captures the daily life on the island beautifully. Ra Vincent’s production design is realistic. Miyako Bellizzi’s costumes are authentic. Nicholas Monsour’s editing is slick.

On the whole, NEXT GOAL WINS is an entertaining flick, based on a real event. However, due to the delayed release in India and similarities with CHAK DE INDIA and JHUND, the film might not find many takers in India.

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