Sunday Ball (aka Campo de jogo), 2014
Directed by Eryk Roach
The land of football, Brazil, and the love of this national sport is the subject of this passionate documentary, looking at the role it plays in the lives of ordinary Brazilians.
If you’re a football fan, you’ll understand the passion and exhilaration that comes with a cup final, that may not mean much to everyone but is everything for you. Every kick is a leap in your throat, every decision is questionable, every moment matters. It can be tense, it can be brutal but it’s always worthwhile. Eryk Roach’s Sunday Ball (or Campo do jogo) sadly captures none of that. Instead presenting something akin to a Sunday league kick-about with zero stakes, and you have no affiliation of connection to either team.
Working as a part-documentary, part-fictionalised account and part arthouse experiment, Sunday Ball tells the “story” of the final game of the local football tournament that is taking place just round the corner from the glitz and glamour of the World Cup in Rio in one of the more impoverished areas of the country. It’s clear what Roach’s intentions were: showing the other side of the football coin compared to the glossy shine of FIFA’s world cup and their “political shenanigans” as well as show how football can unite communities, but Sunday Ball is an awful bore with zero to say.
It doesn’t help that Roach often shoots the action using angles that don’t show the action, so you’re left in a constant state of confusion as to what is actually going on. He wants to get you involved in the drama of the match (as is clear by the opening text narration), but he gives you no reason to cheer one team or boo the other. We know nothing about the teams and therefore don’t invest in the match itself – which we then barely see. What we are treated to however are ten-plus-minute scenes of coaches trying to get their teams to listen to them or Terrence Mallik-esque shots of blades of grass. The action sometimes cuts away to previous matches in the tournament with no notice, which only confuses the movie’s narrative further.
The dialogue (such as it is) is a mishmash of chants, swearing and nonsensical garbage. It was as if the subtitling team translated the Brazilian dialect to Russian first before turning to English, with most sentences just being gibberish that don’t help the story nor further Roach’s window into this community united by football. And if the headache-enduing camera shots don’t cause you to flee the cinema, the ear-blistering ambiance and soundtrack will.
An utter failure of a movie, Eryk Roach’s Sunday Ball is bound to have pretentious film snobs comparing it to the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup, but everyone else will see it for what it really is – a badly shot, badly edited bland patchwork of annoyance, boredom and nonsense. The crowd passion is clearly on show, but it means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. Sunday Ball? Sunday Ballshit more like.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.