Within the short list of soccer films directed by women, there is a surprising number of Americans who have directed ostensibly British films. Will is just such a case. Americans Ellen Perry (Director) and Zack Anderson (Writer) have created a family film drama around Liverpool FC.
After abandoning him to the care of nuns for 3 years, Will’s father (Damian Lewis) returns. Father and son play soccer and share in their Liverpudlian obsession. Dad has 2 tickets for the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, but as Will prepares to go, Dad passes away. Will is now alone. Or so he thinks.
Will: “Will God take me to Istanbul?”
Sister Carmel: “God will take you anywhere you want. All you need is faith”
Of course, this isn’t really what she’s meant. But with the help of his friends, the 11 year old resolves to escape the nuns and get to the game.
Once on the continent, he is helped by strangers and Liverpool fans. A former Bosnian player (Kristian Kiehling) drives him from Paris to Istanbul, evading the international search for the runaway Will, who is labelled “Liverpool’s No. 1 Fan”, and BTW, is a Liverpool savant who rattles off facts.
While the movie is a little far-fetched, it is a good family soccer film that holds your attention throughout. It captures the excitement of fans going to an extremely big match; the themes of loss, forgiveness, and fear; and finally, it shows that maybe Sister Carmel was right: you never walk alone.
The soccer is pretty slim but looks good. There is no footage from the game, although Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher recreate the walk onto the field. What intrigued me more was researching this 2005 final, which is known as the Miracle of Istanbul, one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Some of the most interesting resources I found were:
- UEFA archive “Liverpool belief defies Milan” (sadly, they removed their video)
- A true depiction of the chaos getting to the game
More small facts:
- It took 5 years to put this film together. Going in, the filmmakers didn’t know much about soccer and selected Liverpool as the team more for its songs than for that game.
- Damian Lewis and the other recognizable actors only appear in the film for 5-10 minutes each. One reason Damian took the role was because he is a huge Liverpool fan.
- Although Strangelove Films LTD is the joint collaboration of Americans Perry, Anderson, and Steven J Moffitt, the company is located in the UK.
- This movie apparently cost $12-14M to make. The Turkish Galata Films brought in much financial support to showcase Turkey.
SoccerMovieMom Rating = 8
Release Date: 2011-11-04 (UK)
Director: Ellen Perry