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The Beautiful Game review – Netflix movie is a great Easter watch

The Beautiful Game review – Netflix movie is a great Easter watch

It's the long Easter weekend, and if you don't like any of the films being broadcast on TV or the big cinema releases e.g Ghostbusters: The Frozen Empire Protect Godzilla x KongNetflix has a great new movie for the whole family.

The beautiful game Inspired by different true stories from the Homeless World Cup, an annual tournament held since 2003 that has helped more than 1.2 million people around the world change their lives. It feels like a classic underdog sports movie, the only surprise is that it took this long.

Although it features the Homeless World Cup, the film is a fictional story and does not directly replicate any particular tournament. The film follows an England team, led by passionate manager Mal (Bill Nighy), who may finally have a chance at glory thanks to the late addition of talented striker Vinnie (Michael Ward).


While Vinny is persuaded to go with the team to Rome, he still doesn't believe he's one of them. He won't admit to Mal or anyone that he's homeless and that he's definitely a better football player than his teammates (for reasons that will be revealed later in the movie), but he doesn't seem interested in helping them improve.

Everything seems to be set up for Vinnie's classic story of redemption and the triumph of the underdog, but to his credit, The beautiful game It doesn't always work out as you expect. Vinny is genuinely unlikable for large parts, and it's a testament to Micheal Ward's engaging performance that it leaves you still invested, wanting Vinny to be better.

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Other characters in the team, including Callum Scott Howells as recovering addict Nathan and refugee Aldar (Ruben Nazari), don't quite have a nuanced face. He's in the support team where The beautiful game It leans heavily into cliché, which makes it less engaging as a result.

The beautiful game


In an attempt to highlight the global nature of the Homeless World Cup, the film ends up covering a lot of ground. The subplot with the utterly useless Japanese team has a very nice message but mostly only extends to the running time, while England's “chief rival” South Africa – led by Susan Wokoma's hilarious nun Protasia – is underdeveloped.

But what matters is that The beautiful gameHeart in the right place. It'll be hard not to be comforted by the film's story of triumph over adversity, as the compelling performances combined with the drama of the matches sweep you in even when the outcome seems clear.

Tonally, the film sometimes veers into darker territory as it should when covering issues like addiction and homelessness. But this never overpowers the film, and the overall message is one of hope and joy, highlighting an important event you may not have heard of before.

As a fun and cheerful watch over this long weekend, The beautiful game It hits the back of the net.

3 stars

The beautiful game Available now on Netflix.

Headshot of Ian Sandwell

Film Editor, Digital Spy Ian has over 10 years' experience in film journalism as a writer and editor. Starting out as an intern at the commercial bible Screen International, he was promoted to reporting and analyzing UK box office results, as well as creating his own niche in horror films, attending festivals around the world. After moving to Digital Spy, initially as a TV writer, he was nominated for New Digital Talent of the Year at the PPA Digital Awards. He became a film editor in 2019, interviewing hundreds of stars, including Chris Hemsworth, Florence Pugh, Keanu Reeves, Idris Elba and Olivia Colman, becoming a human encyclopedia for Marvel and appearing as a guest expert on BBC News and beyond. – Stage at MCM Comic-Con. Wherever he can, he continues to push his terrifying agenda – whether his editor likes it or not.

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