Netflix's The Beautiful Game is an ideal Easter watch

the beautiful game
Netflix's The Beautiful Game reviewNetflix

It's the long Easter weekend and if you don't fancy any of the movies airing on TV or the big cinema releases like Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire or Godzilla x Kong, Netflix has a heartwarming new movie for all the family.

The Beautiful Game is inspired by various true stories from the Homeless World Cup, an annual tournament that has run since 2003 and helped more than 1.2 million people worldwide change their lives. It feels primed for a classic underdog sports movie, and the only surprise is that it's taken this long.

While it features the Homeless World Cup, the movie is a fictional tale and not directly replicating any particular tournament. It centres on the England team, led by passionate manager Mal (Bill Nighy), who might finally have a chance of glory thanks to the late addition of talented striker Vinny (Micheal Ward).

micheal ward, bill nighy, the beautiful game

While Vinny is persuaded to go with the team to Rome, he still doesn't think he's one of them. He won't admit to Mal or anybody that he's homeless and he is definitely a better footballer than his teammates (for reasons that are revealed later in the movie), but doesn't seem to have an interest in helping them improve.

It all seems set up for the classic redemption arc for Vinny and an underdog triumph, yet to its credit, The Beautiful Game doesn't always pan out as you'd expect. Vinny is genuinely unlikeable for large parts, and it's a testament to Micheal Ward's charismatic performance that you're still invested, willing Vinny to be better.

Other characters in the team, including Callum Scott Howells as recovering addict Nathan and refugee Aldar (Robin Nazari), don't quite get as nuanced an arc. It's in the supporting cast where The Beautiful Game leans too heavily on clichés, making it less involving as a result.

the beautiful game

In trying to highlight the global nature of the Homeless World Cup, the movie ends up taking too much on. A subplot with the totally useless Japanese team has a very sweet message but mostly just extends the runtime, while England's main 'rivals' South Africa – led by Susan Wokoma's hilarious nun Protasia – are underdeveloped.

What matters though is that The Beautiful Game's heart is in the right place. It'll be a hard soul to not be uplifted by the movie's triumph-over-adversity story arc, with engaging performances sweeping you along with the drama of the matches even when the outcome feels obvious.

Tonally, the movie does sometimes stray into darker territory as it should when covering such issues as addiction and homelessness. But it never overwhelms the movie and the overall message is one of hope and joy, shining a light on an important event that you might not have heard of.

As an entertaining and uplifting watch over this long weekend, The Beautiful Game hits the back of the net.

3 stars
‏‏‎ ‎

The Beautiful Game is out now on Netflix.

You Might Also Like