Many of the best soccer movies have been directed by women. Unfortunately, When Saturday Comes does not earn that distinction. Sean Bean plays young brewery worker Jimmy Muir, who gets the chance to tryout for his home team, Sheffield United.
But Jimmy sabotages himself with his own fear, drink, and lack of self-discipline, along with a multitude of challenges from family and friends.
The soccer scenes include footage from an actual Sheffield United vs ManU game, plus a penalty kick that was filmed during the game’s halftime. The soccer showing Jimmy’s rise from the pub leagues is almost acceptable. Sean Bean (Boromir of Lord of the Rings) claims he could juggle for over 10 minutes as a youth. But one of the weaknesses of the film is that Bean was 35 at the time and looks pretty sodden; it’s a distracting disconnect to think he is a 25 yo striker getting a tryout.
The film has several male nude scenes in the locker room (which struck me as a bit homoerotic), and a scene where Jimmy goes to a strip club the night before his big tryout (lots of T&A). The movie was typically macho. So it really surprised me to discover that the Director was a woman, Maria Giese, and that she is American and educated at UCLA film school.
Her then-husband James Daly has writer and producer credit, and the story is somewhat based on his life. He grew up in working class Sheffield and wanted to be a footballer. He had that in common with Sean Bean, who started off as a welder for his father in Sheffield, and who is a huge fan of Sheffield United.
Curiously, Geise and Daly separated before the film was released. Giese returned to LA and used to run a website that sought to end directorial gender discrimination in Hollywood. Meanwhile, Bean and his wife Melanie Hill divorced, and Hill ended up with Mr. Daly.
Researching all this backstory made me wonder if Giese tried to overcompensate for her gender by making a film that a macho man would have made. Or perhaps her husband had a greater part in direction than has been indicated. Anyhow, Giese made only one subsequent film, and it could not find distribution. I’m sorry to say that When Saturday Comes does not really deserve any better consideration.
Update Sep-25-2018: Post the #MeToo movement, it appears that the website womendirectorsinhollywood is no longer available.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5
Release Date: 1996-03-01 (UK)
Director: Maria Giese