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Parents' Guide to

Baggio: The Divine Ponytail

By John Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Sweet but rushed biopic has some cursing.

Movie NR 2021 91 minutes
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Far from a comprehensive look at Roberto Baggio's life, this biopic takes a more singular route to presenting this soccer legend's story. Strangely, instead of focusing on the soccer itself, Baggio: The Divine Ponytail chooses to present thin off-field narratives that mainly focus on Baggio's inner turmoil and pressures as he battles injuries, confidence struggles, and transfer gossip. The problem is that none of these narrative threads are connected well. This is notably highlighted by the many sudden jumps in time, often fast-forwarding years ahead, without any review or summary of what has happened to Baggio during the interim. Indeed, this last point underscores how soccer fans (and perhaps fans old enough to remember Baggio) will likely view this movie differently. For example, if you know of Baggio prior to watching this movie, you already know he's a legend, of his club career with various Italian Serie A powerhouses (Fiorintina, Juventus, A.C. Milan), about his penalty kick miss in the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil, and about his last years at Brescia. Without this kind of knowledge, however, watching this film might be confusing, as there are no signposts along the way that establish, year by year or season by season, what Baggio did on the pitch. There are no highlights of his goals, stunning free kicks, dribbling ability, or amazing "man of the match" performances. At various points when the film jumps ahead years, fans may be able to fill in the gaps, but non-fans might be confused.

While there's some attempt at showing what life is like for a professional European footballer in the 1990s on the field, there are only close-up dramatizations of certain moments from famous matches. Finally, the movie doesn't end satisfyingly. Despite the film setting up a particular kind of redemption finale, we don't get it. The film suggests that Baggio didn't get called up for the 1998 World Cup (never having a chance to redeem himself for his infamous miss in 1994) and instead had to accept failure and "rescue" Brescia from relegation (this actually happened 2 years after the 1998 World Cup). Fans and non-fans alike might expect more closure (and redemption) to the scattered story arc, like showing Baggio score 2 goals in the 1998 World Cup, including a penalty kick during Italy's first match (thus redeeming his infamous miss 4 years prior).

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