Reviewed by: David Stanners

Ever since childhood, Kare (Håvard Lilleheie) has nurtured a dream of playing for Manchester United. He eats, sleeps and breathes football and will do anything it takes to achieve his desire and impress his long term sweetheart Anna (Berte Rommetveit), including getting married at Old Trafford.

As time goes by, he is forced to face facts. He's never going to be good enough to play for Man U. He's got a dead end job at the ship-yard and is forced to live vicariously through his own failed dreams. On top of this, his childhood nemesis Stian (Vegar Hoel) is back in town gloating about how successful he is.

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Promising Anna a deposit on a new house by securing a contract with a second rate local side, he badgers FK Haugesund's temperamental Ukrainian coach (Henrik Mestad) to sign him on a permanent basis. Meanwhile, Stian is showboating around in his BMW, with plans to buy the shipyard. Teasing Kare for his lack of success, he cajoles his way into Anna's good books, showering her with gifts, while capitalising on Kare's financial mishaps with the bank manager.

United is a lighthearted, slightly flimsy little film, which is funny and nicely executed. Had it been made on English turf, it wouldn't have had the innocence and charm of this small town Norwegian setting. Even better, instead of Beckham being the hero of the day, Kare's idol is Eighties legend Bryan Robson.

The characters are all fairly simple creations, yet appropriate for the low-key setting. The backbone of the film, which is its humour - mostly self-deprecating - manifests itself nicely. Kare's little friend Iversen (Sondre Sørheim), a precocious, bow-tie-wearing genius, with a penchant for sweets and all the answers to Kare's precarious love life, raises plenty a chuckle. Likewise, little retro sketches into the background of the characters, works a treat. The best is his Ukrainian coach, who emigrated to Norway after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the rest of his shell suited, beardy friends, but was the only one who managed to stay sober long enough to do something productive with his life.

United works because it doesn't aspire to any lofty ideals, nor take itself too seriously and offers some great laughs in what might have been a rather thin story. Also, it has a strong feelgood factor, likeable characters and, more than anything, doesn't shine the spotlight on Beckham for more than a second or two.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2004
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Light-hearted comedy, where one man’s obsession with playing for Manchester United threatens to tear up his relationship.

Director: Magnus Martens

Writer: Magnus Martens

Starring: Håvard Lilleheie, Berte Rommetveit, Vegar Hoel, Monika Bjerke, Severin Eskeland, Henrik Mestad, Arne Scheie, Sondre Sørheim

Year: 2003

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Norway


EIFF 2004

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