Review: ‘FC Venus’

The battle of sexes takes to the soccer field again for "FC Venus," a remake of the successful Finnish pic of the same name. Ironing out the core set-up's rough edges, this plusher Teutonic version, helmed by Ute Wieland, takes both the story's dramatic elements and the sport more seriously, but it slightly lacks the comic joie de vivre of the Nordic original.

The battle of sexes takes to the soccer field again for “FC Venus,” a remake of the successful Finnish pic of the same name. Ironing out the core set-up’s rough edges, this plusher Teutonic version, helmed by Ute Wieland, takes both the story’s dramatic elements and the sport more seriously, but it slightly lacks the comic joie de vivre of the Nordic original. Released in late April, just in time to exploit rising World Cup fever in Germany, pic scored respectable B.O. returns locally with help from an attractive cast of upcoming thesps.

Paul (Christian Ulmen) tricks his g.f. Anna (Nora Tschirner) into moving to his home town with him so he can resume play with the semi-pro soccer team he co-founded there. Irate Anna, who professes to hate the sport, bands together the femme partners of the rest of the team’s players for a wager: If their team can beat the boys at their own game, the men will never play or speak of soccer again. If the women lose, they must never complain again about the guys’ obsession with the sport.

As in the Finnish pic, Anna turns out to be a former junior league champion. She recruits onto the team old friend Kim (Anneke Kim Sarnau), now a top goalie in the women’s big leagues, and then makes up with her long estranged dad (Heinz Hoenig), a famous coach for the pros, in order to persuade him to coach the femme side.

Pic assumes more knowledge of soccer’s rules than the Finnish version did and relies on in-jokes about famous German players and soccer history, which will make it a harder sell abroad. Nevertheless, pic’s high concept could still be juiced for further, culturally specific remakes in other territories.

Lead femme Tschirner looks more convincing on the field than Minna Haapkyla, who played Anna in the Finnish version, but her angry character as written here doesn’t give thesp much room to project charm or charisma.

Ulmen (“The Elementary Particles”) appears to be having more fun, while the supporting cast, most well-known faces from German TV, bring a lightness of touch that moves the story along nicely.

Helming by Wieland has pro-polish, but lacks ambition to look like anything more than a single cut above TV product. Pop-song-scored montages unfold a touch too frequently to illustrate progress during training sessions which makes pic feel heavy in its midsection.

FC Venus

Germany

Production

An NFP/20th Century Fox (in Germany) release of a Egoli Tossell Film, Seven Pictures Film production, in cooperation with SAT1, Zweite Medienfonds German Filmproductions GFP. (International sales: Cinepool, Munich.) Produced by Ralph Schwingel, Stefan Schubert. Directed by Ute Wieland. Screenplay, Jan Berger, based on the film "FC Venus" originated and directed by Joona Tena, screenplay by Outi Keskevaari, Katri Manninen, idea by Perttu Leppa.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Peter Przybylski; editor, Martina Matuschewski; music, Oli Biehler; production designer, Thilo Mengler; costumes, Elaine Wagner, Claudia Gonzalez; sound (Dolby Digital), Kai Little. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 24, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Nora Tschirner, Christian Ulmen, Florian Lukas, Anneke Kim Sarnau, Heinz Hoenig, Andreas Pietschmann.
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