‘United Passions’ Review: Scoring Against Your Own Team

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 16, 2015

United Passions tells the story of the creation of FIFA, spanning a century and seen through the eyes of its most important leaders throughout the decades. Ignoring that it came out in the middle of the FIFA Corruption Scandal, United Passions remains a mediocre movie. A mediocre movie turned into an awful one simply by its last five minutes.

The movie lacks any real conflict and cramming a hundred years-worth of history into a movie that doesn’t even last two hours was a big mistake. Nothing ever feels at stake, and any characters that could actually have an important and interesting story to tell are left behind. Conflicts or problems within the organization or around it are never clear, they are given the most basic explanations and never explored. The movie just moves on without a clear goal.  None of the characters truly stands out. Perhaps the only exceptions are Sepp Blatter and João Havelange, since there is a hint of actual tension between the two of them, aided by how Tim Roth and Sam Neill portray them. The dialogue is on-the-nose, often pointless. Moments and issues are brought up and quickly forgotten. It’s a movie that feels haphazardly put together in terms of both storytelling and character.

Visually, the movie performs fine. There isn’t a huge amount of attention to period detail, but the cinematography, production and costume design are serviceable. Combined, they give the movie a pleasant atmosphere that makes it easy to watch, or at least a little tolerable.  But it’s the ending that completely ruins the movie; knowing that it was sponsored by FIFA, you know you are going to watch a blatant commercial, but the ending just throws it at you on the face in the schmaltziest way possible.

Perhaps it’s because I was watching it and hoping throughout that I’d get something more than a self-congratulatory vanity piece, but in the end, the movie is just that. It’s empty and doesn’t make any effort to extol a true love for soccer. It’s all the worse because there is definitely a good movie to be made on the subject, but if an organization like FIFA would have such a stronghold on it, who knows if we’d ever get to see it or if anyone would even be allowed to at least write it that way.

Final Say: Skip It

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