BELIEVE is a shamelessly earnest and indulgent underdog sports story starring Brian Cox as the legendary real life manager of Manchester United. The script from Massimiliano Durante and Carmelo Pennisi imagines what would have happened if Busby had decided to coach a young bunch of working class kids in a local tournament, just out of love of the game and the memory of his young players so tragically killed in the Munich air crash.
Although much of the film is derivative (working class lads up against posh boys - a mum who doesn't want her kid to play - the conflict between school and sport) I really admire the director David Scheinmann (THE WEST WITTERING AFFAIR) for going into some of the darker material. Although done in almost mocking, caricatured manner, this is a film that shows the class divisions in England, with Georgie (Jack Smith) trying to pass an exam to get into a grammar school rightly seen as potentially life-changing. I also liked the sentimental but elegantly handled way in which the Munich air crash is handled in a film that is, after all, a PG rated drama.
Brian Cox is predictably great as Busby but I was surprised at Toby Jones' comic facility and Natasha McElhone's northern accent. But the real star is Jack Smith as the star player Georgie who handles the tough emotional stuff as well as being a good lippy kid. Could've done without the added contrived drama of a last minute flat tire though.
BELIEVE was released last year in Austria and is currently on release in the UK.