Film Review: The Offsiders (Boisko Bezdomnych)
(Tor Film Studio)
Showing as part of Kinoteka 2009
Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams
Battered, bruised, and wearing a Father Christmas hat, Jacek Mroz (Marcin Dorinciski) comes to in Warsaw Central Station. How he plummeted from being an hotly-tipped young footballer on the cusp of a glittering career down to Noclegownia Hades, the evocatively named subterranean hostel to which he is taken by a group of the station’s other rough sleepers, unfolds through the film in parallel to the story of the group’s precipitous climb to become the Polish team in the Homeless Football World Cup.
Just as in a match players are left offside as they become out of step with play, The Offsiders have, through accidents, addiction, mental illness, and trauma, been isolated by the play of life and become out of step with society, much to the confusion, hurt and frustration of their families; as the cliché goes the offside rule is notoriously hard to explain to non-footballers.
Kasia Adamik has delightfully subverted the genre of oddball teams coming together to pull off audacious goals, with its long Hollywood lineage through The Magnificent Seven to Oceans Eleven, and with her own measure of audacity in only her second feature and with a tiny budget has created a highly assured mix of poignant drama, wonderfully observed comedy, and sharp satire which sweeps one up with such cynicism demolition that one ends up unabashedly and wholeheartedly cheering on the ‘Homeless Eleven’ to triumph. Whilst within the ultimate feel-goodness of the film, Adamik has very successfully woven a thought provoking depiction of modern Poland, a country that for so long was left offside through war and politics, and the contradictions inherent in its journey to reclaim and promote an independent national identity.