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Festivale Winter 1997

Fever Pitch

A view from the stands …
Movie Poster, Fever Pitch, Festivale film review When I first was told about this film, I really wondered whether it would be worth the effort to go and see, as I am not a fan of any code of football, much less the style played in Britain. However, it was a very pleasant surprise, as it had more to do with one fan, Paul (played by Colin Firth) and his relationship with football in general, Arsenal in particular, and the impact both of these had on his relation with Sarah (played by Ruth Gemmell).

On the surface, Fever Pitch appears to be about British football, and there is quite a bit of football involved in the film as it takes place during the 1988/89 football season. It follows the trials and tribulations of an Arsenal fan and the woman he meets at the school where they both teach.

As the film progresses, we see that Paul's obsession with football started when he was still at school and needed Mum's permission to go to an away game. A lot of what happens and how his obsession started are shown in a series of flashbacks during the course of the film. He manages the first away game by giving the full details of what trains and buses he will need to catch, and the estimated time of arrival both at the game and back home.

His mother is initially resistant but eventually gives in under the pressure of his enthusiasm and planning.
Fever Pitch, movie still

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The first away game is not as successful as he would like as his mother had to buy the tickets and managed to get him a place in the opposition's area of the ground. It is rather amusing to see this one supporter, surrounded by the opposing team's supporters trying to explain why he is there rather than in another place. Luckily, he spots some of his friends and manages a successful escape. After this faux pas, he manages to convince his mother to get tickets in the correct area so that it does not happen again.

The relationship with Sarah tends to be stormy as it hinges on the success, or otherwise of Arsenal. Sarah finds football tedious and is ribbed by her flatmate when she goes to see Paul, as neither is a football fan and find the obsession rather tedious. However, as the relationship progresses and time moves on, we see a gradual change in all parties. Sarah and her friend seem to develop at least a passing interest in the game and Paul seems to be trying to get away from football as a way of life.

There is a compromise in the end, but the way in which it happens must be seen and to divulge much more would be to spoil it.

Considering my lack of interest in the game, I found the film to be quite engrossing. The characters are convincing in their beliefs and I found myself actually getting interested in what was going on and wanting to see how it would all turn out.

So, even if you are not interested in football itself, the film is worth seeing for the characters and the way they interact

Richard Hryckiewicz

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Just the facts:

Title: Fever Pitch
Written by: Nick Hornby based on his book
Directed by: David Evans
Produced by: Stephen Wooley, Nik Powell
Edited by: Scott Thomas
Director of Photography: Chris Seager

The Players: Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell, Neil Person, Lorraine Ashbourne, Mark Strong
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