Friday, May 25, 2007

Eleven Men Out - Movie Review

I caught this last night at the Inside Out Film Festival here in Toronto (the lesbian and gay film fest), and while it wasn't as big of a time waster as my previous nights outing (where I should have just stayed home and watched the finales for American Idol and Lost instead (OH MY GOD SO GOOD. I STILL CAN'T GET OVER IT) but damn me for trying to go out and get cultured), Eleven Men Out, which opens in North America apparently sometime in July (or August 24th?) this summer, and a film that I had been looking forward to, was not as good as I had hoped.

Strákarnir okkar, or Eleven Men Out is a Icelandic film about a star soccer player Ottar (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) who comes out, is banned from his team, joins an amateur team that happens to have 2 other gays, and slowly gets dubbed the gay team, with more gay soccer players joining, and more teams refusing to play them. Except, the movie doesn't deal with much of the actual politics, only using it as a backdrop to explore the reactions and relationships within his family, his ex-wife and his son.

I liked that they went straight into the premise, with Ottar's coming out to his team and the press right away, with no shame or after thoughts. He's gay so deal with it. Except of course, some people do and some don't and it's sort of the stereotypical coming out story only updated to a slightly more tolerant (but not totally) times. Ottar falls into a relationship almost immediately, his drunk ex-wife is more distraught that he won't sleep with her than that he's gay, and his son is angry about it, but not for being so much as gay but for expressing it publicly.

The movie is slightly a misnomer (in English at least) since while it follows the "gay" team throughout the season, we never actually see any games played, and we barely know any of the fellow teamates. The dialogue (or at least the translated subtitles, which I have a feeling didn't quite grasp the subtleties of the language) is a bit sitcom and stilted while the film itself is like every other European independent film with crossover appeal which helps give the simplistic dialogue and jokes a bit of weight, but unfortunately, not enough as a whole for the movie to work. The comedy comes from the clichés and the acting is wooden (or is that just how Icelandics are?) but there are some really nice moments and insights into living in Iceland and family dynamics, but the feelgood film as a whole is stunted in depressing realism, which is usually a nice touch, but somehow the imbalance here doesn't quite work. Not quite realistic enough, and yet not a fairytale fantasy either.

Eleven Men Out = C+ or 6/10

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