Superman, Batman, The Flash, The Hulk, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-man, Black Panther, Captain America, hell even Ant Man is joining the big leagues now. In this age of fictional superheroes, it’s easy to ignore the real life heroes whose stranger-than-fiction success stories had managed, in their time, to make the whole world stop, look up and notice. One such hero is Edison Arantes do Nascimento or as we know him, Pelé.
A wise man once told me, ask a billionaire how he made his first million and you will know his real struggle. This is that story, the origin story, so to speak, of Pelé, one of the greatest footballers the world has ever known. The movie is good visually, shot entirely on location in Brazil, but it never really goes beyond good. It’s nice to see the kid Edison in the slums of a post 1950 World Cup Sao Paolo, loving football despite being told not to. His condition of dire poverty revealed in many hard-hitting scenes including one that depicts the origin of his now iconic nickname. He and his “team” enter a local football competition which leads Pelé to be spotted by a scout (Waldemar de Brito) from the football club Santos. Due to some unfortunate events however, Nascimento decides not to pursue it further and give up football entirely. His father, Dondinho, then reveals to him his own love for football and for Ginga, the ancient style of play that originated in Brazil. He decides to coach the boy and helps him master Ginga for years till his mother, realizing his potential for the game, decides to call de Brito. Now I won’t talk about the storyline further since the rest of the movie runs with the facts if we can somehow excuse the shots of the press which seemed rather exaggerated and aimed at giving us the good old underdog feelings towards the Brazil team.
The acting is good, Vincent D’onofrio uses his emotive face to put in a good performance as Feola, struggling to do what’s right for his team, but it was just sad to hear him speak in that accent. Felipe Simas is fun as Garrincha, Pelé’s sidekick, Brazil’s right winger and forward and considered by many as the world’s best dribbler. Leonardo Lima Carvalho steals the show as a young Pelé in the first half which was mostly a bit of a drag, story-wise. The music lacks the magic of A.R. Rahman and would sound like every Hollywood movie had it not been for the one beautiful track ‘Ginga’ and a few match sequences. Coming to the football matches themselves, I would have preferred for the scenes to look a bit more natural. The cameo by Pelé is cute and got me all excited. All in all, it was a good effort but it had the potential to be much better.
At the end of review, I would like put in a request to anyone who reads to watch this one. Not because it’s a great movie or because it does a great or authentic job in terms of portraying Pelé’s life or origins. I’ll be honest with you, neither of those are true. I want you to watch this movie because I want this to be watched more. As a superhero origin story. Give it a try. You might enjoy it.
- Good Acting
- Factual Accuracy
- Poor Cinematography
- Mediocre Music
- Predictable Plot