A rag-tag group of Warsaw alcoholics trains for soccer's Homeless World Cup in this uneven take on the redemption-through-sports drama from Polish helmer Kasia Adamik, daughter of producer (and directing great) Agnieszka Holland. Pic's inconsistent mix of grit and sentiment failed to score with domestic auds during an October release. Already appearing at Polish events in the U.S., the film is likely fest fare only.

A rag-tag group of Warsaw alcoholics trains for soccer’s Homeless World Cup in this uneven take on the redemption-through-sports drama from Polish helmer Kasia Adamik, daughter of producer (and directing great) Agnieszka Holland. Pic’s inconsistent mix of grit and sentiment failed to score with domestic auds during an October release. Already appearing at Polish events in the U.S., the film is likely fest fare only.

Main protag Jacek (Marcin Dorocinski) was once a promising player on Poland’s national squad. Long since sidelined by an injury, he’s now a bitter drunk. Banished by his wife and beaten by thugs, he takes up with a group of down-and-outers at Warsaw’s central train station. After a slow start, the pace picks up at the 30-minute mark when Jacek agrees to coach his new neighbors. Script follows conventions of the sports genre, with minor triumphs and setbacks en route to a final showdown, but, apart from a real tragedy, lacks emotional impact. Thesping is understated, with only Dorocinski and Eryk Lubos, as a violent ex-con, making a strong impression. Grainy, handheld DV lensing feels too jumpy; the rest of the tech package is serviceable.

The Offsiders

Poland

Production

A TOR Film production with the support of PISF, TVP, WFDiF, Non Stop Film Service. (International sales: TOR Film Prods., Warsaw.) Executive producer, Janusz Wachala. Produced by Krzysztof Zanussi, Agnieszka Holland. Co-producers, Wlodzimierz Niderhaus, Zbigniew Kula, Marek Skladanowski, Slawomir Jozwiak, Kasia Adamik. Directed by Kasia Adamik. Screenplay, Perzemyslaw Nowakowski.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Jacek Petrycki; editor, Michal Czarnecki, music, Antoni Lazarkiewicz; art director, Katarzyna Sobanska; costume designers, Katarzyna Lewinska, Magdalena Rutkiewicz. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, Dec. 8, 2008. (In Gdynia Film Festival, Poland; Warsaw Film Festival -- market.) Original title: Boisko bezdomnych. Running time: 119 MIN.

With

Marcin Dorocinski, Rafal Fudalej, Piotra Jagielski, Marek Kalita, Krzysztof Kiersznowski, Eryk Lubos, Maciej Nowak, Dimitri Piersin, Jacek Poniedzialek, Dariusz Toczek, Bartolmiej Topa.
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