Shooting for Socrates
There’s no shortage of football movies; the beautiful game has been given the silver screen treatment many times over, but rarely can a movie truly capture spirit of just how important football can be, not only to individuals but to whole communities.
Set in Northern Ireland, leading up to and during the 1986 Mexico World Cup and against the back drop of the Troubles, Shooting for Socrates splits its narrative between the Northern Irish team and soon to be ten-year-old Tommy, a young football loving lad from Belfast. Tommy (Art Parkinson) tries to make sense of the tumultuous events surrounding him through football as his tenth birthday approaches, while the team gear up for their historic David vs Goliath game against the Brazilian team, led by all-round genius Socrates de Souza.
This film is, in a word, charming. It’s interspersed with game and news footage from the actual events, and small details like framing and fonts give it a delightfully dated feel. The dialogue is witty and natural, and the focus on the people who love football means that even those with little interest in sports will fall in love with it.
What is truly remarkable, though, is how endearing and fully formed the characters are, which is no mean feat considering there are so many. Perhaps it’s made easier by the fact that many are based on real people, but nevertheless each one feels unique. Nico Mirallegro (My Mad Fat Diary) and Ciarán McMenamin, playing footballers David Campbell and Sammy McIlroy respectively, give great performances, as does Parkinson. Conleth Hill (playing sports journalist Jackie Fullerton) provides much of the comic relief, with John Hannah giving a solid performance as the grouchy team manager, Billy Bingham.
Though there are a few overly sentimental moments, the film is so otherwise charming those can be overlooked. All in all, Shooting for Socrates is a heart-warming little film, no doubt destined to join the likes of Bend It Like Beckham in the ranks of feel-good football films.
Shooting for Socrates does not yet have a UK release date.
Watch the trailer for Shooting for Socrates here: