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The Groundsman is a 2013 short graduation film produced by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Written & Directed by Jonny Blair, Starring David O'Hara. The film depicts a lonely football groundsman named Keith (O'Hara) who finds out his club has gone out of business, but instead of moving on with his life and acknowledging his past affairs, he tries his utmost to keep the club running. Written by
A little melodramatic, but has a good base of realism
When a very low league football club shuts its doors, it hits the groundsman, and former player, Keith hard. Unable to let go of his job he returns to the ground to paint it up, lay out shirts, tend the pitch, and all the usual tasks. With the board accepting that the club is now over, Keith struggles to get over his loss.
I think for all humans there must be something in our brains that give us comfort in routine and ritual things that we can do that give us a feeling of security and perhaps control; in many cases people call these hobbies or religion, but essentially the base element is the same. Another place to retreat to is sport, and for men in particular it is not unusual to see people who would not cry at the funeral of their own parents, but would weep with anguish because a 0-0 draw away to Tamworth means their team will be going down this season. These two aspects of avoidance and seeking out faux-emotional safety are both touched on in this short film and it is the familiarity and honesty of these things that makes it work pretty well.
Keith (well played by O'Hara), is typically dour and escapes into drink, sport and work to get away from anything else outside of those things although from what we see there is little else, which is part of his ultimate problem. With the loss of the club (his glory days, his current work routine, his hobby and his passion), he is forced to confront feelings of loss and it is clear these are feelings he has mostly been trying to avoid confronting. As this unfolds the film does get a little melodramatic a bit too quickly for me, and I did think it could have been a bit more subtle in how it plays the parallels out, but it does still work and I appreciated that O'Hara and the overall production limited the feeling of it being soapy, even if they didn't totally manage it.
It is the base of realism that sells it, although the revelations and the pouring out of pent up emotion did give it an air of melodrama that it didn't aim for but didn't guard against; although the overall product is still good.
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