Goal! The Dream Begins (2005)
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It was really nice to see less known actors in the roles. I'm personally sick and tired of the same little old crowd always getting parts in everything. It's a fantastic mixture when you can get an actor who is well known in Romania (Marcel Iures) but relatively unknown in the rest of the world and Kuno Becker (again known in Latin America but unknown to everyone else) and put them in a British film with a U.S. actor (Alessandro Nivola) along with British actors. Really clever, nice ethnic mix and an unusual one--less predictable than the usual casting that goes on out there--kinda opens the pool of actors that we're currently exposed to all the time.
A lot of people are complaining about the football (soccer) aspects of the movie saying that it's not real, etc. But I think they're failing to see that the movie is not about the sport itself (although I think there's a fair amount of that in there as well) as much as it is about the people who play it and some of the backstage politics that are linked with it. I thought these were shown tactfully and were just enough as they were coupled with the human factor --the lives of the players, their loves, their hates, competitive spirit, etc.
What was good about having a Latino as a protagonist in the film is that it shows the wider scope of fans football has. It is not only popular in Europe but in Latin America as well. The film could have easily gone down the eurocentric route of making the story about a European case, but this made it a bit more unusual and interesting. Since Santiago was an illegal immigrant who obviously took the great risk to come to the States and didn't really have much going for him here (as is the case for most illegal immigrants anyway and is becoming more and more true with the newer policies being undertaken here) his risk of going to England to try his luck there is completely plausible to me. I have actually seen similar things tried by other Latinos going to Europe to see if their luck is better there than here for obtaining residence, etc.
Some people may feel that the portrayal of the Latino family was stereotypical, but on the whole, I thought it was positive with the characters being honest and working hard for a living rather than being common hoodlums as they are sadly put forth in many films. Santiago was shown to be a modest young man who is not too full of himself and a generally likable character.
While the settings and the game results are real, we follow the fictional story of an illegal Mexican immigrant to Los Angeles, Santiago Munez, street footballer extrodinaire. He gets his lucky break when an ex-Newcastle United player turned scout, Glen Foy, chances upon his games, and invites him over to England for trials.
For a guy who's struggling to make ends meet, this presents the perfect opportunity to take a stab at his dream. But tension builds as his father disapproves and is skeptical at both the chance as well as his son's gift to make it big. So he leaves his real dad and family behind, to follow in the footsteps of Foy, his surrogate father in England.
The highlight of the movie is not the real football games that the actors get seamlessly transplanted onto, but rather the many trials and tribulations that Munez goes through to earn his rightful place in the squad. His disastrous first appearance almost made him take the first plane home, and I'd bet many in the audience thought it would be a breeze actually for him to make it to first team. Thankfully, the focus was on his sheer determination to overcome the lack of niceties towards newcomer rookies like himself, and the difficulties and temptations which fill his 30 days trial that Foy literally begged for.
What you read in the papers of the decadent lifestyle of footballers are all in here - the booze, the parties, the clubbing, the women, even video games (taking a stab at David James maybe?). Munez gets introduced to these by fellow teammate and cocky new German acquisition Gavin Harris, whose partying lifestyle takes a toll on his game, and becomes the Toon Army's boo-boy. It's fantastic how these two characters contrast each other, and help each other along the way.
For non-fans of the beautiful game, fear not, you're not gonna be alienated in this movie, as it doesn't sink into technicalities like the dreaded offside rule. You'll enjoy the movie simply because of the strong human drama weaved into the story, as well as the familiarity of easily identifiable themes of hard work, right ethics, living your dreams and fulfilling your aspirations.
Newcastle fans however, will rejoice, as the hallowed grounds of St James Park gets put on the silver screen. For fans without the opportunity of visiting their beloved club, they can gawk at the dressing room, the gym, the dugout, the pitch up close, the city neighbourhood, and "mingle" with fellow fanatical Geordies. Club captain Alan Shearer makes appearances too, as do the many other first team players. But the screen version of the club manager looks uncannily modelled after Arsenal's Arsene Wenger. Fans of Fulham, Chelsea and Liverpool can also see their heroes on screen as well.
Santiago Munez is played by a relative newcomer, Mexican actor Kuno Becker, who was put on real soccer training to improve his skills and make him look credible and natural with the ball at his feet. At certain angles with his short crop, he looks like Michael Owen, who now is playing for Newcastle (he wasn't when this movie was filmed).
I so dig the soundtrack, especially the guitar piece which opened the movie, and track from the trailer which also made its way into the movie - Kasabian's Club Foot, and various pieces by Brit-band Oasis. A pity it's only out in the stores on October 16 (based on Amazon), but I'll be there to pick it up when it hit the shelves.
The ending, even though it wrapped up all the pieces nicely, is a bit abrupt, but I guess it would lead directly into the planned sequels of a trilogy, which involve Real Madrid and the World Cup. This is one movie which can spark someone's interest in soccer, and I'd recommend it to both fans and non-fans alike. Don't let this movie dribble past you!
Kuno Becker is very well cast as promising young player Santiago Munez. He is earnest, honest, and gives off that glow of burning desire to be the best. My only knock is that he doesn't quite physically look the part at times. When they line him up with real professionals he looks a touch slight and skinny, not quite boasting the musleclature of a professional athlete. The supporting cast works out well, too. No real complaints to offer as everyone seems to be a very good fit. Alessandro Nivola's dialect could use a spot of work, but no one outside of the UK will really pick up on this. I very much liked Marcel Irues as Newcastle United's Manager. He seemed to be a totally natural fit for the role and is a shoe in for the lead if someone ever decides to make the "Aime Jacquet story".
Where this movie really takes off is on the pitch, whether its a park in LA, the training ground in Newcastle, or St. James Park, the home of Newcastle United. The soccer scenes are exceptionally well done and look realistic. Real players feature prominently all over film, both on and off the pitch, and not just in walk on cameos, ie "Bend it like Beckham". The action is convincing, the tackles are crunching, and the goals are authentic and not the usual over the top spectacle (anyone remember Pele's winner from "Victory"?) Becker fits in well with the action scenes, though it's odd how you never really see all of Becker on the ball and usually just the waist up, kind of like they found some else to do all the little flicks and stepovers...
And for all those who say "it can't happen", I beg to differ. This movie is not fantasy. In fact, they could have made a biopic about a young Calgarian from Western Canada who somehow manages to make Bayern Munich, works his way up through the reserves, and in his premier season with the senior side wins the league and European Cup, makes the England side for World Cup 2002, and returns again to be the best England player in World Cup 2006! Maybe someday someone out there will make the "Owen Hargreaves story".
All in all, great stuff and I'm already looking forward to Goal 2 & 3.
In the case of GOAL! THE DREAM BEGINS the viewer can put aside the doubts as to whether the film can make it on its own: this little low profile movie is well written (Mike Jefferies's story adapted for the screen by Adrian Butchart), well directed by Danny Cannon who knows well how to integrate live sports scenes into the drama, and consistently well acted by a troop of excellent actors, beginning with the very vibrant, handsome, and charismatic Kuno Becker ('Lucia, Lucia', 'Imagining Argentina', 'Once Upon a Wedding', 'English as a Second Language'), a 28 year old Mexican actor with an assured future in the lead role of Santiago. The supporting roles are classy contributions by the gifted Alessandro Nivola ('The Sisters', 'Junebug', 'The Clearing', 'Laurel Canyon', 'Love's Labour's Lost', 'Mansfield Park' etc), the very beautiful Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Marcel Iures, Tony Plana, Miriam Colon to mention only a few.
The story is secondary: as a child devotee of soccer Santiago immigrates illegally into the US with his family, grows up in Los Angeles working as a gardener, a dishwasher and other menial tasks while he consumes his spare time with developing his unique talents for soccer. Despite his father's insistence that he remain with the family business of gardening, Santiago is discovered by a scout on vacation from England, a bond develops and soon Santiago is off to Newcastle to pursue his dream of being a professional soccer player. The rest is pretty obvious - the ups and downs of an asthmatic kid competing in the wild world of sports. The star of the moment is Alessandro Nivola and despite the differences in their goals and social life they become friends who help each other in tender ways. There is of course a love interest, telephone calls and encouragement form Santiago's grandmother, adjustments to life in the UK -all altering the road toward Santiago's eventually attained goal.
The film is a bit lengthy (two hours) for the content, but then we understand this is the first of a trilogy, so get used to the story and the characters as they all remain constant for the next two installments. Whatever reservations you may have about sitting through another predictable sports movie just relax them: Kuno Becker alone is worth the time invested in this very fine little film. Grady Harp
Some of the CGI football shots are poor, but the budget for this film was not massive, and they did what they could. The use of cameos from the likes of Shearer, Zidane, Beckham and Raul added to both the credibility and believability of the overall piece.
The film is sad and at times funny, and can be enjoyed by the whole family, including people with no interest in football. It's a story of triumph over adversity, and of people pulling together to help someone get ahead in life, by doing what they do best.
Overall, this is the best football film ever made, in my opinion. You can tell that the people who made it knew their subject matter - something that simply cannot be said for Green Street (Hooligans) which concentrated on fan violence, rather than the beautiful game.
What this film does on the base level is to authentically present the game in high quality realism on the silver screen. However, that alone does not lend the film its credo. What makes it stand as the definitive standard bearer for films of football (given how every other sport especially American ones have managed to succeed filmwise- Bull Durham, Space Jam, Mighty Ducks, Remembering the Titans, etc) is that it carries many thematic layers on its back, pushes the frontiers of the genre with depth in the storyline, and finally aces in delivering a film that merges drama with sport, hype and overall verisimilitude in all content elements.
Obviously, every critic knows that the methodology of such a delivery is that it requires realism, and in cinematography especially- exactly what the film provides, and as a result gives it that definitive edge. Soccer films have never been entirely authentic, due to factors as diverse as action mapping, as well as dramatic scope. Furthermore, fans of the sport knew that nothing in cinema could ever approximate the sheer unscriptable drama of the actual game. Until GOAL! came along. When FIFA commissioned and granted the rights for the film to Danny Cannon, the air of realism was set in motion already, because albeit being fictional, it carries the authority of the universal game as fans know it because of its simulated parallels- real clubs, real superstars like Zidane, Raul, Shearer, etc, and realities of the game's actual hierarchies and bureaucracies have been surmised- reserves, leagues, scouts, agents and pressures.
AG Salomon/Adidas may have pumped advertising dollar into this film for placement of their teams (Newcastle United, Real Madrid) and sponsored players for marketing, but in a sense, when the result is this authentic, can you blame the corporations for input? In fact, fans might even have to thank them for producing what can be the first high profile and quality football film on record. Just recall the maudlin world of football film until the recent revival of films of the genre, which incidentally mirror the revolution of football and its branding that began in the 1990s and the likes of superstars like Beckham. In recent years, this revival has seen film entries usher in on the commercial success of football, from 1996's 'Fever Pitch' to 2002's Bend it like Beckham, but never has a film about the game itself been done the way it has been done here, in such centrality.
In fact, the very dearth of such films is an understatement and may well be the fuel for the GOAL! trilogy's impending success. Even football legend PELE alluded to the paucity of football films- or at least those of the simple concept explaining structures of wealth, class and the disparities of rich and poor in congruence with football. The plot by Butchart and Jeffries in this film stands out because of this - featuring the barrios of S.America; the institution of organized football religion in England, and a rag to riches drama, where Becker's character combines innocence and disappointments with success and 'aspiracion' in true underdog fantasy. The script is far from genius but it has depth- genuine troughs (poverty, death, rejection) and hurdles- competition, adaption and temptation (the clubbing scenes were almost a revealingly accurate précis given footballers' reputations in Europe). In fact, perhaps the only inaccurate part was about how Becker signed without a work permit and contract given he had to have been playing in at least 70% of all matches with his International side. Nonetheless, the film manages at the same time to convey the global scale of this billion dollar world obsession with the fantasy without compromising the sheer magnitude, and challenges of it all. Throw in all the other elements ranging from romance with Anna Friel's pragmatic nurse character to the gamut of football archetypes (Nivola as the playboy with conscience, Iures as the stoic gaffer, Dillane as the gentlemanly scout, the mercenary agents, an even a Souness-like hardman), on top of the fact that footage of actual matches in England has been seamlessly edited in, and you can see why the film accounts for a thorough representation of the sport. Perhaps even most exciting of all, the film shows behind the scenes footage of the teams and stars- training, grounds, gyms, dressing rooms, city streets, pubs, Toon Geordies.
How many people remember a football film that was done this way? More often than not football films have been towed by comedy or played side appendage to broader issues. From Thorold Dickinson's Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939) about crime, to biopics like Yesterday's Hero (1979), or Gregory's Girl (1981) about gender, or even Eran Riklis's Cup Final (1991) about the PLO in war, most films have broader issues. The rest survive on humour, Mike Bassett (2001), being the typical example. GOAL! scores and sets the precedent for the genre from now on. In fact, there has been a rush of football films since, well accounted for at Cannes or the Berlinale festival, and probably well into World Cup 2006.
Films at Cannes included 'The Longest Penalty in the World' and "Romeo and Juliet Get Married" - a strained marriage between a Barcelona fan and a Real Madrid fan while Berlinale had 'Offside' an Iranian film. The market for soccer films has always been there, its just a case of whether filmmakers could break the deadlock with quality and authenticity, and GOAL! could well be the catalyst for the floodgates to open.
By Stephen Thanabalan
This is a heartwarming tale of one man's struggle to become something more. Despite the obstacles and the disapproval of his father (Tony Plana), he goes for the goal. Only to find that it is not going to be that easy after all.
I would say this film is 'Bend it Like Beckham' meets 'Gattaca'. Not that Santiago needs to meet any DNA tests, but he is in a world that is virtually unknown to him. He has to keep secrets about himself in order to fit in because most expect him to fail. Some will even try to make him fail.
Directed By: Danny Cannon
Starring: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Tony Plana, Miriam Colon, & Alfredo Rodriguez
MPAA Rating: "PG" (for language, sexual situations, and some thematic material including partying)
I feel as though I have written this review before. Come to think of it, I feel as though I have seen this movie before. Oh wait! I have a hundred times before. "Goal! The Dream Begins" fits so comfortably in the mold of its genre that one could almost imagine that it used the exact same outline as such films as "Stick It", "Take the Lead", "Akeelah and the Bee", "Bring It On: All or Nothing", and so many more. I can see the thought process that the filmmakers used when coming up with this idea. (Insert Name Here) is a true underdog who wants to excel at (inset sport and/or competition here), but (insert potential problem here) stands in his (or her) way. Can he (or she) overcome the obstacles and achieve (insert award name or honor here). Movies like these have been saturating the market lately yes, even more so than PG-13 remakes of horror classics. It seems as if every week we see another one of these types of films and, I must say that it is getting redundant. It is easy to see why. The layout of these films has already been pre-set and all filmmakers must do is insert different characters and achievements for them to work towards. How many more movies can they make? I guess when they must resort to using winning a paddleball competition as the achievement, they might just hold off for a while. But, alas, until then, we will continue seeing these. The latest (or one of the latest) is "Goal! The Dream Begins". Everything you need to know about this film is in the title. "The Dream Begins" sums it all up rather nicely, if I do say so myself. As it does not say "The Dream Ends", we must assume that our main hero succeeds in doing whatever it is he desires to do and that this movie paves the way for a long and successful career for out said hero. Come on! You know you knew that already.
The hero of this movie is Santiago Munez (Becker), an illegal immigrant from Mexico who dreams of playing soccer (or football for our friends outside of the United States). But, his father, Hernan (Plana), has different plans. He wants Santiago to join the family business with him and help secure their family financially. But, when Santiago gets the chance to try out for Newcastle United, he jumps at the chance and, using money his grandmother (Colon) gives him, he secretly jets off to achieve his goal. However, he soon realizes that becoming a professional soccer player is not as easy as it looks and that his father may have been right. As things begin to turn into a roller-coaster of highs and lows, Santiago realizes that he must first believe in himself before anyone else will. Ah, this is such a lovely plot. It's simple and, though not brain surgery or anything, it serves its purpose--which is to entertain and to inspire. Yes, it is about as clichéd and predictable as they come, but it still kept me entertained. Do I sound as though I am contradicting myself? If so, then you have just understood my point. Movies like "Goal! The Dream Begins" are entertaining movies (for the most part) and I certainly enjoy watching them, but they are still clichéd and ripped off of nearly every other movie that came earlier.
The cast does an exceptional job. Kuno Becker gives a wonderful breakout performance and really holds his own, which surprised me. He is just a very solid actor. Alessandro Nivola, who starred in my favorite film of last year, "Junebug", really showcases his versatility as an actor here. Who knew he has such a profound talent? Anna Friel serves as the love interest for Becker's character and, though underused somewhat, she too does exactly what is asked of her. The remainder of the cast does admirably. As I have said, "Goal! The Dream Begins" is a paint-by-numbers drama that really brings nothing new to the table. In fact, you have seen all of this before. But, like "Take the Lead" did earlier this year, "Goal! The Dream Begins" manages to transcend its genre and, while remaining predictable, it is far better than it should be. Well-acted, stylishly-directed, and competently-written, "Goal! The Dream Begins" is a movie that is so much more entertaining than its clichéd concept suggests. Will you see every plot twist coming from a mile away? Yes. Will you know the ending even before the opening credits are over? You better believe it. But, will you be completely entertained and fulfilled at the end? Most definitely.
Final Thought: Predictable and clichéd, "Goal! The Dream Begins" brings nothing new to its genre but it is still a very good movie with lots of fun to be had.
Overall Rating: 7/10 (B+)
How can Tony Plana, the actor playing the hero's Mexican gardener father and illegal border crosser, realistically play that role when he's got a mouth full of those artificially big, bright Hollywood teeth? I just couldn't get past it - an illegal gardener without a green card but who's got thousands of dollars in dental work blazing across the screen! No self-respecting actor should ever get involved with this absurd fad of capping, whitening, bleaching and brightening. It's fake, fake, fake. As good an actor as Plana is, I'd have disqualified him from the role for that reason alone.
My other comment is really a question. Who is playing the broadcast commentator in the film? The credits say it's someone named Rob Lee. However, the voice seems to ring a bell for me, yet I can't find anyone in football broadcasting named Rob Lee. Whoever it is, he's doing a fine job and sounds very authentic.
I really liked the film.
The story was predictable but I wasn't expecting anything else. That said, they didn't go too overboard with how the film was going to end.
There were a few carefully placed lectures for the real footballers in the film, lets hope they understand the warnings.
I went with the missus and she loved the film. And she hates footie!!! The only bit I didn't quite get was the timeline. NUFC only had a few games left in the season but so much time seemed to pass by. I wasn't convinced.
But if you want a good film to watch then you wouldn't go too far wrong by having a look at this. It is far better than some of the rubbish this year.
If you are after film with a complex, thought provoking plot, then you won't enjoy this - but if you enjoy football, and like 'boys own adventures', then this won't disappoint.
This film will probably be big on Tyneside but I would doubt its appeal in other parts of the country. Guest appearances by several famous footballers must have cost a bomb and added nothing to the story. I don't think I'm giving anything away if I say Beckham was wooden.
Surprisingly authentic North East accents from Chris Fairbank and Anna Friel and Anna Friel looks good too! I wouldn't bother to see it again but it was an enjoyable enough film.
The story begins as 10-year-old Santiago has passion for the sport early in his life.He then moves to the states from Mexico where he spends the rest of his life playing soccer for a local club and hoping one day he can play as a professional.It just so happens that a guy, who has been a scout and a once famous player,notices Santiago's skills and is deeply impressed.Out of desperation he gives Santiago a chance to play for Newcastle Utd. a top English club.Although Santiago cannot ask for anything more than a trial in a massive club,his father is against his dreams and wishes that his son can help him in his business.Nevertheless ,Santiago flees the States and lands into the Brits colony,where everything seems strange.So there he begins his journey and comes across various obstacles and many times he loses his chances to play for the club ,anyways in the end he......you know the rest.
This is quite familiar to everyone.Yes,this film is predictable in every way and you've probably seen movies like this ,but there are some good performances and impressive directing by Cannon which makes this worthwhile, and don't forget that this is a soccer movie and it has one of the best football sequences,with stark realism.Anyone who has ever watched a soccer game will find the football scenes realistic.They are very well executed.But if you watch the film REAL:The Movie,you'll see the scenes in that movie,which are extracted from real game and presented in a cinematic fashion,are more exhilarating and authentic.But still,since this a movie,it's still great.
The story is too old fashioned and brings nothing new to the sports genre.However there are a few good lines that work well.The performances are all fine and Becker really impresses.He really excels as a kid with a dream of becoming the best.He has the charm and the looks of a fit player and handles the dramatic scenes really well.This kid is about to become a star himself.Alessandro Nivola is also impressive,playing a lazy ,careless international star who spends more time at clubs than on the pitch.Stephen Dillane also gives a noticeable performance as a father figure.The rest of the cast is just fine.
The film often stumbles into the predictable and old fashion spot ,but there are some moments that are touching and there are some stylishly effective football scenes and the whole film entertains you.There is a good amount of energy in this film,at times it is fast paced and exciting and other times is too familiar.But it really is entertaining and understands the values of Football(SOCCER).
You won't find a better Soccer movie than this one and it's great to hear that two planned sequels are on the way.So enjoy this sport while you're at it.
The first thing that comes to mind is that it's like a Million Dollar Baby type rags to riches sports tale. That captures the excitement and emotion of watching a football match anywhere. And if you don't like football it's worth watching as an inspirational drama with great performances.
For football fans it would be great and inspiring if you want to be the next Beckham or Owen. I wouldn't get to excited about Beckham's appearance it was only one scene.
One thing that's wrong with this film is that some people may find it a little predictable in some of the match scenes. And it was a little boring in some areas, and has yet to cover allot of areas in the football world.
But these things don't let the film down to much and I would recommend it. I even cried at the end.
Loved it! 10/10
Boy, am I ever kicking myself to this day for thinking that.
This movie was a PROFOUNDLY amazing movie on every level. I wasn't expecting The Godfather, and normally I'm not a fan of sports movies. But watching this movie, I was so surprised at how much I liked it. It take a plot that would normally be considered simple and turns it into something complex and surprisingly really great. One would not expect a good movie at all watching it, but they would be surprised as hell at how well done it is.
Ever since his childhood days in Mexico, Santiago Munez has had one dream- playing soccer. One night, his family sneaks across the border into California, where he has two jobs- one as a chef in a Chinese restaurant and one as a gardener for his dad. In his time off in the hot California sun, he plays soccer with his mates. That's his passion. His dream is to be a major league soccer player for a soccer team. Putting aside his status as an illegal immigrant, he saves his earnings so he can try out for a major soccer team.
Then one day, a man from England sees him playing Soccer. He is impressed at how well Munez plays. After the game, he offers him the chance to go to England and try out for the team. His grandmother encourages him to ignore his non-believing father and just go, offering him the money.
While in the UK, Munez learns that it's not easy being a big-name soccer player. And he learns it the hard way- he has trouble playing in the rain, he has trouble with his severe asthma, and a death in the family causes some drama.
This film is of course clichéd and predictable- LA is depicted with an orange tint, England is depicted with a rainy, cold washed-out blue tint, the stereotypical characters all come into effect at one point, and the finale is predictable as ever. But the way the movie is done, it's done in a way that you wouldn't care about that- you'd just really be blown away by how amazingly well done it is. And I must say, if this movie doesn't make you wanna go to England, who knows what will.
Do not miss this movie, even if you don't like soccer. It is a great movie.
This is independent film-making at its best. It has the main plot which is the struggle of an athlete to achieve his dream. It has side plots which involve his relationships with his father, his new found girlfriend and his grandmother. His interactions with his brother and his teammates are great. But probably the most important event of his life has to do with the lucky break he gets when a former player turned scout sees him play. From there, the dream begins for the star of the movie and the audience as well.
This movie is highly recommended.