Fever Pitch ★★★★

No idea why it's taken me so long to see this, seeing as I've been an Arsenal supporter for almost 30 years now. This revolves around the most dramatic end to a Championship in the UK (piss off Man City) culminating in first versus second, Liverpool v Arsenal, last game of the campaign, left to the last kick of a 9-month season. That serves as a back drop to Colin Firth's fanatical loyalty to Arsenal, his 18 year wait to see us win the league again and how fandom can infect those around us in the best and worst ways.

What the film does really well is capture the insanity that grabs millions of us every weekend, obsessed with the winning of three points. Football films are typically useless because it is a team game based around how they work together as a unit and the movement and space on the field that a focused camera lens can't identify. The game is one of the most dramatic in the world but translates horribly to the cinema. And yet perversely, a slow strategic game like chess, set on a tiny board, on a table, in a quiet room, between two people, can be far more intense as seen recently in Queen of Katwe.

Fever Pitch brilliantly encapsulates those unique fan moments, like walking up the stairs of the stadium before the full expanse of the pitch and noise hits you, as your heart skips a beat. Standing (no longer possible and shown why here with the Hillsborough disaster) in the noisy, aggressive throng of supporters moving in unison with the rhythm of the match. The obsession with stats and figures and their accuracy. The drama, romance and tragedy that football supporters find in watching guys kick a ball around. The celebration when it all clicks beautifully together and a goal is scored or the ultimate happens and you win some silverware.

Colin Firth and Mark Strong are excellent as the typical polar opposite fans. The eternal optimist and the determined pessimist, the two extremes we pick out as coping mechanisms. It's a nice touch that they are also both Arsenal fans, so it must've been the perfect role to be offered. Luke Aikman is equally as good as the young Firth, reminding me of the consuming passion that football infects kids with. The soundtrack was pretty terrible but forgivable given how well everything else worked together. Anyway, there's another three points on the line this weekend, so it's back to the stress and strain we fans place upon ourselves, more grey hairs and ulcers, all in the name of football.

Steven liked this review