You’re probably too young to have seen Some Like it Hot, an iconic 1959 comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. In defiance of the film industry’s Hays Code, the film flirted with topics of homosexuality and cross-dressing.
Over 50 years later, Israeli director Shay Kanot emerges with a summer comedy that covers some of the same ground but with an updated twist. As in SLIH, Kanot uses two very good looking stars: Oshri Cohen and Gal Gadot.
In Kanot’s story, star forward Shushan (Cohen) tries to flirt with Mirit (Gadot). But Mirit turns out to be a somewhat unwilling moll for ruthless gangster Mr. Black (Eli Finish). To save face, Mr. Black tells Shushan he must publicly announce that he is gay, if he wishes to live.
The rest of the film shows how Shushan and his agent (Mariano Idelman) make the best of Shushan’s publicized homosexuality. They turn it into an advantage off the pitch, although playing soccer is out of the question. Shushan is berated by his former fans and orthodox Jews; they even rename him “Shoshana”, a woman’s name. Of course Shushan’s struggles increase his appeal to Mirit, even though she dares not disappoint her gangster boyfriend.
I don’t know how the LGBT community views this film. It had a range of bad reviews in Israel, mostly for political incorrectness. On the other hand, Liel Leibovitz, a co-host of the Jewish-American podcast Unorthodox, found it “surprisingly meaningful”. Apparently some people believe that Israelis use humor to get beyond lives under constant conflict. Leibovitz points out that Kanot’s film came out during a year when Beitar Jerusalem fans were particularly violent (see the film Forever Pure).
The soccer is mostly CGI
The soccer is generated quite a bit by Yashinski Studio, who posted a short video of their CGI work for the film. It was good for the period but looks a little artificial today. There is a cute segment when Shushan takes on a bunch of orthodox high school scholars on a small concrete pitch. The filmmaker is very good at making Oshri Cohen look like a real soccer player, so I can’t even tell if he really is one.
I really enjoyed this film, as it is funny and despite the 1959 reference, surprisingly fresh. It turns out that I couldn’t find another sports movie where an athlete pretended to be gay. And of course, my husband couldn’t take his old eyes off Ms Gadot, the 2004 Miss Israel and current Wonder Woman.
This feel-good film left us with an impression of uplift and positivity that maybe, just maybe, we can all be happy with ourselves and accepting of others. Of course, a little eye candy always helps.*
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8
- Released: 2014-07-14 (Israel)
- On Amazon Prime, the title is The Goal
- The film is also known as Shoshana khaloutz merkazi, or שושנה חלוץ מרכזי, which Google translates as “Shoshana Center Forward”
- In Hebrew with English sub-titles
- WIKI in hebrew
- Director: Shay Kanot
- Stars: Oshri Cohen , Gal Gadot , Eli Finish
- Watch the Trailer
* I have to be honest that I also have a built-in bias. Perhaps another reason why I didn’t find issues with this film is because Oshri Cohen looks so much like my son-in-law.