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Film review: 'Kicking Off' (2015) – Not just a game

Tuesday 19th April 2016
We take an impartial look at the debut film from English director Matt Wilde.

Running time: 125 mins

Certificate: 15

Director: Matt Wilde

Release date: April, 21st 2016

Winner of Best British Feature at the 2015 Raindance Festival

From pub talk to kidnap-plot, what happens when two hapless football fans take exception to a refereeing decision?

There is much to enjoy about this fast-paced football-centric Brit flick, which has all the hallmarks of becoming a cheeky cult favourite, and is certainly a late Easter treat for any long-suffering fan who has been asked the question at the centre of this comedy: “What's the point?”

'Kicking Off' is generously littered with familiar faces - from protagonist Wigsy (Luther's Cheshire-born Warren Brown) and his long-suffering pal Cliff (Greg McHugh, also known as “Wigsy's mate”) to much-maligned referee Anthony Greaves (Yorkshireman Alistair Petrie), who you may recognise from the BBC's recent swashbuckling adaptation of John le Carre's 'The Night Manager.'

The quality of the cast, off-the-cuff style script and jolting direction combine to cracking effect and are a must for a film with but a handful of characters and locations, and a fairly simple premise on the surface: scorned football fans, armed with a raw sense of injustice, abscond with referee.

A classic tale of the everyman frustrated with various subplots spinning out of his control, both on and off the pitch, rough-around-the-edges Wigsy decides to take matters into his own hands with both humorous and dangerous consequences.

Cue calamity, quick-witted exchanges, chase scenes, revelations and more than one helping of honest reflection and you have 'Kicking Off' in a nutshell.

From the rib-tickling to the absurd, director Matt Wilde's award-winning offering is chock full of cracking one-liners, amid the pitter-patter of the two central pals' pub-style banter, as our anti-heroes come to terms with the relegation of their beloved football club and changes to their friendship.

Watch the trailer here:
Although it is first and foremost a light-hearted look at football fanaticism, 'Kicking Off' makes it clear on more than one occasion that it has much to say; from drawing oft-made parallels between sport and religion, to commenting on the ever-blurred lines between fiction, fantasy and reality.

Whatever your choice of escapism, you have to admire the way Wilde captures the agony, the ecstasy and the (sometimes extreme) obsession fandom can fall into, as the jerky camera work, split-screen shots and freeze frames aptly capture the mental process of poor Wigsy, as he plunges between euphoria and anger.

You'll find several classic footy film tropes here, with a couple of cool cameos to boot, which we won't reveal (you'll have to watch to find out), as Wigsy's hapless kidnap plot spins entertainingly out of control, just like his life.

Ultimately, everyone can relate to the awful pause which occurs in the pub when a potentially season saving goal is disallowed – and it is that balance between anguish and comedy, turning the sinister into the comedic and vice-versa, that this film captures perfectly.

Just remember one thing, as Wigsy would say,...“never trust a keeper who wears orange boots.”​
Holly Thackeray
Full-time content writer, English Lit grad and long-time Manchester United fan with an affection for Japan and the Azzurri. Also, if you like darts, I definitely belong to the Barney Army ;)

Total articles: 6

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