Football Peeks Out From the Closet

Tucked away in the ‘Debate’ section of this year’s BFI London Film Festival is a very powerful film adapted from a successful play by John Donnelly that ran at the Royal Court Theatre.  The action takes place over 3 very different nights spread over a 10 year period tracing the fallout from the first sequence at a Bucharest Hotel the night before an important premier League football match.  2 aspiring football stars – Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene – are nervously preparing for tomorrow’s match.  Locker room banter blends slowly into homoerotic touching and kissing.

Fast forward 5 years, Jason (Tovey) is a premier league star living the good life in 5 star hotels with all the trimmings of sporting success.  His bed is littered with Selfridge shopping bags and all the flash trimmings we associate with premier league success.  He rolls into his hotel suite directly from a night club entwined with an adoring babe (Lisa McGrillis) who has a hidden agenda which is played out in this second sequence.

Five years later we are in the same hotel room but much has changed.  Jason has aged and lives on a diet of pills and booze – the dark side of the football lifestyle.  There is a knock on the door, Ade (Arinze Kene) arrives.  He looks older sporting a neat beard.  Jason has apparently asked him to come visit on the pretext of doing some plumbing work on a Greek villa he has bought.  Ade is now a plumber, playing amateur club football on Hackney Marshes on the weekend.  He is in a gay relationship with a guy called Gary and is comfortable with his sexuality.   Jason, on the other hand, is still firmly in the closet although, we understand, is an active predatory gay.  This sequence of the film is all about mind games between 2 men whose paths diverted after that Bucharest night 10 years before.   There is some resolution but it would spoil the plot if I reveal more.   Overall an excellent piece of theatre transported to the screen.

See it a the BFI London Film Festival 

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