A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Match (La Partita) is an Italian (with English subtitles) drama filled with cheating, violence, adult language, and casual drug use and alcoholism, all surrounding a local soccer final. Some movies with equally adult content provide valuable life lessons that even younger viewers can benefit from. That isn't the case here. A clothed couple is seen having sex in the back of a car. Pharaohs of ancient Egypt reportedly masturbated daily in the Nile to prevent famine. It's reported that a tribe in New Guinea forces kids to drink the semen of elders. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "p---y," "bitch," "bastard," and "d--k." Soccer players cheat and deliberately trip and injure their opponents. Blood is seen. A player is ousted from a game after retaliating in defense of a teammate. He angrily breaks a bench in the locker room. A man is beaten and put in a car trunk. He's shot off-screen. Young people smoke marijuana and otherwise get high. Adults drink excessively. Someone snorts what seems to be cocaine. One character is a junkie with extensive debts. An adult recalls selling "pot" in high school.
What's the story?
Sporting Roma is a suburban Rome soccer team that has been losing for decades in its league. In THE MATCH, coach Claudio (Francesco Pannofino) urges his star player, Antonio (Gabriele Fiore), to lead his team to victory in the final game for the championship against the violent and boorish rival team, Milan. A small, rag-tag crowd watches from the rickety stands of the local "pitch," or football (soccer) field. Stoned kids watch next to drunk adults. Fights break out in the stands and on the field. Intercut with the on-field drama are numerous other dramas. Bookies threaten people who have made foolish bets. Bettors beg the coach to throw the game. A dad begs his player son to throw the game. Many face ruin. How will it all end?
Is it any good?
In this film, actors begin their performances with yelling, so there really is no place for them to go in terms of emotional arc. The Match hops around inexplicably and confusingly from important characters and their lives to unimportant ones and irrelevancies. In the first 12 minutes, myriad scenarios are introduced, and only about three of them are central to the plot. The movie also hops around in time. The match's half-time seems to last an eternity. Night falls and the supposed final match seems to be about to start again. This time when the match begins, we have more behind-the scenes information, yet nothing seems clearer, nor do we feel more involved in the characters or their fates. A guy who makes a bet on the game seems to win his bet, yet gets in mortal trouble with the bookie anyway. A communion proceeds at the same time as the match, then seems to go on the next day as well. When a food fight/physical fight breaks out over tomatoes between sisters-in-law at the reception, nothing is added to the film but a sense that the writer-director has reached a desperate moment of creative emptiness. The rhythms here are all off.
At the seemingly climactic moment when a big game ends, the movie still has 26 minutes to go. At this point, calling the whole thing only marginally comprehensible wouldn't be overly harsh. The writer-director's ambition to tell a complex story is evident, but he lacks the technical competence to make a coherent, well-plotted movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the unethical behavior on display in The Match. Can parents teach their kids to be honest, hard-working, and decent when they set a poor example? Why or why not?
Would you consider this a soccer movie? Why or why not? What elements do most sports movies share?
The movie jumps around in time. Do you think this serves any productive purpose -- for example, to further the plot or our understanding of characters or situations? Why or why not?
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