Ronnie Sandahl’s powerful drama focuses on the psychological impact of major sport on a talented teen unprepared for the world he has entered.
Based on Martin Bengtsson’s memoir of his brief tenure as a teen player for football giants Inter Milan, Sandahl’s film finds Bengtsson (Erik Enge) arriving in Italy aged just 16. Language is his first barrier, but he soon finds other challenges harder to bear. Bengtsson befriends US player Ryan (Harry Potter star Alfred Enoch), who tells him that many team players resent his arrival because they know his contract is more lucrative than theirs. The management doesn’t help, only wanting to see results on the pitch and appearing to care little for their player’s psychological state.
Having previously written Borg vs. McEnroe (he has also penned Olivia Wilde’s upcoming gymnastics drama Perfect), Sandahl clearly understands the dynamic that drives characters within the world of high-performance and high-stakes sports. His focus here is centred on the psychological impact of the opportunity offered to Bengtsson rather than the game itself. It’s a ploy that pays off handsomely, creating a drama that questions the nature of a system that prioritises talent over wellbeing.
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