The Second Game ★★★½

One doesn't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy and appreciate The Second Game. The image in Corneliu Porumboiu's documentary is one full, unedited soccer match that his father refereed decades earlier (filmed with a digital camera pointed toward a television, which adds a layer of remove). The sound is a recording of Corneliu and his dad talking; the father is allowed the limelight as he tells stories of other games and events, recalls what was going through his mind at various points of the match, questions or confirms calls he made, and simply sits with his son in silence. There is a nostalgic warmth that comes from the conversation paired with the VHS image of the game—evoking a feeling that many who watch the film may have experienced in their youth with their own fathers—and also a curiosity about the nature of the changing self as the father criticizes his younger self for bad calls, only to take his words back when the young man onscreen ends up making that call a moment later. Add to that some fascinating historical context related to Romania's communist rule, and you get a very compelling, peaceful watch.