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Documentary

At least the soccer is great in ‘LFG’ (2021)

LFG (2021)
LFG (2021)

LFG,  the new documentary on HBOMax, is about a mission that is right and just. From other reviews on this website, you know that I am 100% behind the USWNT’s fight for equal pay. But LFG (Let’s F**king Go!) is in some ways a disservice to the cause, because the film is too long and becomes boring. The first rule of soccer movies should be: Don’t take more than 90 minutes to tell your story.

There are plenty of good things in the movie. In the first 20 minutes, there are lots of game clips as the film tracks the determined USWNT campaign through WWC 2019 and the triumphant celebrations afterwards. Megan Rapinoe is a true star and the core of the film. She is resplendent and authentic at the same time. She is gorgeous with and without makeup, because her brilliance shines from within.

We also come to know Jessica McDonald and her accomplishment of competing at the highest level of her sport as a single mom. From the other USWNT players in film, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, and Sam Mewis, we come to understand how hard it is to be a professional athlete and at the same time shoulder the burden of carrying forward the lawsuit against USSoccer.

The film makes it clear that the women’s collective goal is to win the World Cup and the lawsuit, not just for themselves and their teammates, but for the good of all women and the good of their country.

It could have been something big

That superhero mission might be the achilles heel of this film and its directors Sean and Andrea Fine. They and others saw the USWNT lawsuit as the next Title IX, whose ramifications in 1972 literally launched women’s sports. Without Title IX, there is no USWNT.

If the women win their equal pay lawsuit, the result will impact the world. And the film progresses that way, with that sort of importance and confidence, until the pandemic hits. Life and soccer stop. Then the film abruptly gets to the end, where the women learn the judge has ruled in favor of USSoccer, and that the USWNT have been paid equally.

Most documentaries that commence at the beginning of something, take about 4 years to complete. When they start, the filmmakers never know how things will end and what they are going to get. Considering the music and game media rights, it is obvious this film was expensive to produce. For the filmmakers, after 2 years, it was probably time to move on, even though, since the USWNT is appealing the ruling, this story is not officially over.

The other issue I have with the film are the extreme close-ups that are often so uncomplimentary to all the female subjects. It was interesting to compare with the filming of male lead attorney Jeffrey Kessler. He is almost always filmed at a comfortable distance within the context of a law office, i.e., always at his best. His best, however, always reminds me of the mythical sports agent Dicky Fox who inspires Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire.

In Conclusion

In the long run, LFG will be a good and somewhat glitzy historical archive that captures the drama and excitement of the 2019 #EqualPay movement. The film will be useful for students in a variety of fields: feminism, law, media, politics. But will it change minds today? Probably not, because only a very dedicated viewer could hang around long enough to absorb all the points of the film.

At least the soccer is great.

If you want a comprehensive history of the USWNT’s struggles, read Caitlin Murray’s book “The National Team.”

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6

Resources:

P.S. Soapbox for doing the right thing

For the USWNT, things do not look good. The pandemic-cursed Olympics are coming up, and the just-announced roster is quite old. Without fans at games, and without atmosphere, even if the USWNT became the first to win an Olympics gold medal directly after winning the World Cup, would it revive the Equal Pay fervor? The principals will likely age out of the team, and lose their platform, before the court appeals are over. And even if the USWNT won their case, it could bankrupt USSoccer.

For USSoccer, things do not look good. I have to wonder why they are so intransigent, especially when Cindy Parlow Cone, a former USWNT player herself, is now President. She has lived through all the disparities herself. USSoccer’s legal bills are eclipsing its reason for being, i.e., the development of soccer.

In France in 2019, I asked a board member why they don’t just take the FIFA revenue and split it equally between the USMNT and USWNT, and he literally laughed in my face.

USSoccer needs to do the right thing, end the old ways of doing business, and set an example for the world. It shouldn’t need a lawsuit to do that. Both sides should agree that the past is the past, and let’s move forward together as One Nation One Team, right? Both sides need to realize that no one is winning this thing.