|Index||5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a remarkable film full of some of the most astonishing scenes -
games INSIDE the San Pedro prison in La Paz Bolivia? Burkha-clad
Iranian women kicking a ball around? Rooftop football in Tokyo? This is
a very real look at how football is such a beautiful, universal
language around the world - an expression of joy, an unabashed
Luke and Wendy come across as very simple and honest people whose love for the game took them around the world on a memorable journey, one which we can joyfully share in.
While PELADA may be regarded as a film about soccer, it is really much
more. This is a film about perseverance, love of a game, love for one's
friends - and for strangers, too. Dare I say it, it's even a little bit
about romance. This film is a behind the scenes look not only at
football - soccer - but at the lives of ordinary people around the
This movie calls one's attention to one's values, and doesn't preach about what those values should be. To a great extent, this is a film about the need we all feel for play. Seeing women in Teheran "playing" is bound to make one think about the effect of religion and politics even on such a basic human desire as the need for play.
This is not a political film,though it may shine a light on some politics. Basically, it's just a film about people - about humanity, even. Whether the young film makers knew it at the time or not, they've made a very profound film. I most highly recommend PELADA.
As a story of pick-up soccer, Pelada is fascinating and occasionally
visually captivating, particularly the scenes in South America which
occupy about half the movie. However, neither of the lead characters is
particularly engaging, and after a while the movie seems more like a
paean to the filmmakers rather than a good story.
There's a hint of a much better movie here. Why not tell the story exclusively out of the mouths of those playing in the games? Better yet, why not let us learn more about those people, where they've come from, what their life stories were? We meet old men playing soccer in a park on Sunday, but have no idea who they are, how they all happen to be there, or what their lives are like.
When I was 14 or so, I read the book, "The Boy who sailed around the
world alone" by Robin Lee Graham. I am sure that I read a lot of books
at that time but I don't think that any made a more lasting impression
on me. I even know to this day exactly where that book is. I guess that
is the power of a travelogue.
Travelogues let us experience things that we often have neither the time, means or for that matter physical stamina for ourselves. When done well, they also give us great insight both into the challenges in the world around us but also can remind us of the greatness of humankind and give us hope for its future. I think that Pelada is an example of just such a film. I hope you enjoy it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
More of these soccer travelogues are needed. The game is huge all over
the world and it means so much to so many people. It's an important
lesson for our children to see that this is a game to be cherished for
life. You don't have to reach the pro level to keep the game with you
The unfortunate irony is that one of the narrators of this movie -- the insufferable Gwendolyn -- is a bit sour on the game because she didn't live up to her own vision of greatness. Sure, she's a nice player, we can see this during the pickup games, but clearly she's not pro quality. However, we have to endure her whining faux-introspection regarding a final chance to make it to the pros. Hello? This movie is about the joy of playing, not your obsession with failing to make the grade. Did you learn nothing from the film you made? The second narrator Luke is a bit more easygoing and he seems to enjoy the game while thinking about his future away from it. However, Luke is also a bit of a numbskull, somewhat dopey and monotone as well. At one point he muses about law school as the next love of his life following his soccer career, then he says something like "well, I don't know if I really love it." Sure, dude, we get the idea. The two of them together are not the best choice as tour guides, but it's their movie so we're stuck with them.
The best parts of the movie are of course the scenes in various countries where we meet the real players, the people who love playing barefoot on asphalt or dirt lots strewn with trash. Some make their own soccer balls. All play because they love soccer.
This will sound harsh, but it's unfortunate this concept was delivered to us by two kids who clearly have had everything spoon fed to them throughout their lives. It really shows in their tendency to act like dolts when on camera and their tendency to deliver the narrative without any real feeling. This movie was a great way for Gwendolyn to run away from the book she was writing (I cringe at the thought of her penning her masterpiece "Reflections on a Pampered Existence: How a Duke University Education Turned me Into a Force for Social Change." Luke seems to be biding his time before law school. We learn this early on in the movie when a dry, harpie-like creature who may be his Aunt sits next to him and openly mocks him for not pursuing a serious line of work.
My advice for viewers of this film: turn off the sound when the narrators are on screen and turn it up when memorable characters appear and actual pickup games are played.
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