Based on the novel "Die Angst des Tormannes beim Elfmeter" by Austrian existentialist writer, Peter Handke, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a powerful and unnerving film by the great German director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas). As the film opens, the goalie, Joseph Bloch, (Arthur Brauss) is suspended from a soccer game in Vienna for missing a penalty kick. Seemingly not upset, he goes into town, then commits an unplanned and seemingly unmotivated murder of a cinema cashier.
Presenting us with a world that does not fit our picture of what constitutes rational behavior, Wenders refuses to explain the goalie's senseless action. Bloch simply continues his life in a matter-of-fact way, although a great deal of emotion seems to be churning under the surface. He retreats to a country inn to find his old girl friend. Nothing much happens. He goes to the movies, converses with the local residents, drinks a lot, gets into a fight, and ostensibly waits for the police to close in. His expression remains the same no matter what he is doing. As stated by Adam Groves in his review in The Cutting Edge, "He may be a homicidal sociopath, but Joseph seems to fit in quite well with the world around him, which seems to be the whole point"
Bloch talks about his life as a goalie throughout the film. At the end, he wanders into to a local soccer game and explains to a visiting salesman the thoughts that go through a goalie's mind during a penalty kick, for example, how the goalie must outguess the shooter. Perhaps dramatizing the dehumanizing effects of modern society, Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a strange, intriguing, and complex film that definitely deserves repeated viewing to unlock the puzzle. A possible hint involves a repetitive theme of a lost boy who drowned because he couldn't communicate.
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