Kicking Off, Film Review. Picturehouse@F.A.C.T., Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Warren Brown, Greg McHugh, Alistair Petrie, Danielle Bux, Mark Bright, Geoff Hurst, Tim Major, Bailey Patrick, Jon-Paul Gates, Robbie Savage.

To many, football is a religion, it is the reason they get up in the morning, it is the devouring of knowledge, the talking point during the day and the bonding across the social strata, football is the motivation and the rationale but when it goes wrong, when the suffering of relegation is experienced, the humiliation of being the worst team possible, some might curse their own personal favourite deity; some might even consider ill will to the man in the middle who may have been the cause of the downfall of the gods, it might lead to the fan Kicking Off.

There is the feeling of intense pleasure to be found when you see a film that has originally been a piece of highly enjoyable theatre, a play that has weathered all the laughter, the boxed in glee and amusement that a first rate production can offer and yet can still go that one stage further by rising itself up to become something glorious, a piece of art that is splendidly presented, as a cinematic delight.

Kicking Off by Robert Farquhar and directed by Matt Wilde takes the excellent stage play God’s Official into a new realm, it allows the audience to feel charmed by the unrestrictive setting of the outside world but never once losing the core element of why it was such a huge hit in theatres; if a child is to grow and develop then it has to be allowed to roam in a bigger world but it must also have the parent willing to hold its hand when it asks. In Robert Farquhar the film could not have had a better and more willing father to keep it on track, the many surrogate uncles and aunts in the cast and the production team making sure the father’s insight was never lost.

Kicking Off is a divine film, it has so much pathos, it is crammed with social commentary around the beautiful game and its allusions to just how far some are driven in pursuit of making sure their deities never waver, never fall, is a testament to the whole production and to fans of the game itself.

In the three main leads, Warren Brown, Greg McHugh and the excellent Alistair Petrie as the Referee behind the relegation, the film has all the acting prowess it could ever hope for and the extreme passion that comes across from Warren Brown as he sinks ever further into concentrated madness is both hauntingly beautiful and a powerful reminder of what football can do people’s minds.

A truly excellent British film that hasn’t been painted into a corner, a true honour to see a play go from page to stage to the big screen; Kicking Off is an absolute buzz.

Ian D. Hall