Open Up to Me is a bit of a mind-bending movie that explores issues of sexuality. I consider it a football film even though the soccer connection is a little weak, as the football provides the normalcy in the story.
Maarit is a transgender woman who before her identity change was once a father, a school counselor, and a professional footballer. While she is cleaning a therapist’s office, a handsome high school football coach/teacher comes in desperate for help with his marriage. Maarit pretends to be a therapist and ably helps Sami. From there their relationship grows, complicating all other relationships around them.
The football connection is an interesting idea — Sami and Maarit have actually played against each other in a Cup game, which they kid about. And they enjoy watching football together. But the story lacks some believability in that neither person seems to understand how to have a loving sexual relationship and yet they advise and counsel others on how to achieve this.
Sami says he is confused about his sexuality, but perhaps he is really more just unable to accept it. Whereas Maarit says she wants a kind and genuine man in her life, and yet she pretty easily lies about everything (but apologizes later).
The LGBT issues
I watched this movie on Hoopla, my public library’s streaming service, and perhaps the film’s true value is in presenting LGBT issues. Writer-Director Simo Halinen did not start out to make an LGBT film. He began with the idea of a woman posing as a psychotherapist, who herself needs to open up to people. It was only on introspection that he decided the woman understood men so well because she had been one. Why he chose a straight woman to portray a transgender woman is not so clear, but back in 2013 that was not something that filmmakers strived for.
While interesting in its own way, Open Up to Me might not be one to add to your soccer movie bucket list.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6