Star rating – 7/10
Here’s a Venezuelan film without a kidnapping, but instead it has the gritty, tough violence of the barrio, told via the inspiring story of two brothers and how football offers them a way out of their grim lives in Caracas.
Toddler Julio (Eliu Armas) and his mother find a new born baby abandoned amongst the rubbish, a symbolic detail if ever there was one. Daniel (Fernando Moreno) or Cat as his brother affectionately calls him after the noise he thought he heard when they found him, grows up as a loved and loving member of their family. When the brothers play football together they are unstoppable, with Julio delivering killer passes for Daniel to sublimely score from.
But director Marcel Rasquin is certainly not making a feel good story here. This is not ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. Instead they play their football in the midst of gang violence and grinding poverty. The football scenes are convincing, which is no small feat in cinematic terms, if a little over long. Although you get the feeling that no-one in Venezuela would think that, as football is a nothing less than a religion there.
And the chance of a place in the academy of Caracas F.C. becomes ever closer when a talent scout spots the brothers and wants to see more of them. This is a tragic story about violence, loyalty, love and how a passion for sport can change even the most blighted lives. The performances are fantastic, especially from the young leads. It might be a little rough around the edges, but it is another fine example of how so called ‘art house’ films can beat the candy floss and billions of Hollywood hands down.