DIRECTOR:                     Jean Van de Velde
COUNTRY:                     Netherlands 1997
CINEMATOGRAPHY:   Jules van den Steenhoven
MUSIC:                           Fons Merkies
CAST:                             Antonie Kamerling, Thomas Acda, Daniel Boissevain, Daphne Deckers, Isa Hoes, Ricky Koole, Frits Lambrechts, Danny de Munk, Raymi Sambo
SUPER FEATURES:       Nice film, with very funny moments.

The recent wave of films from the Netherlands, and some other parts of Europe, shows one thing that Hollywood has yet to learn. That one does not need massive budgets to make films, and that with some clever work, and well thought out acting, a small film can look much better than many high budget productions that show more gloss than dedication. ALL STARS is one such film. For all its obvious lack of a large budget, the film incorporates many funny moments into a very nice package, and manages to make the film very entertaining for anyone.

It is the story of a bunch of guys that have been together for many years playing soccer as a team. As they approach their 500th game, and they are having a harder time fielding a complete team, we come to see that there are other problems that they all have individually. Many of them go way back to their days as youngsters. Others are results of not so early experiences.

The film, more than anything else, is a nice, gentle study of friendship, and what it has taken to keep these guys together for so long, despite their many directions, and work. But the film, while being sensitive to many of the characters never loses sight of its funny moments, and makes sure that everyone of the guys has a laugh, or enjoys a funny moment. Meanwhile, all this stuff is not fun for some, but it is not enough for all of them to break up each other's friendships, even when it may be adding some terrible stress to a few families that have gotten here along the way.

One mother is upset because her husband lies about his Sunday outings. One other has a "father" who used to be their coach. It turns out that he was adopted, and couldn't exactly leave the old man to go to games but had to. His girl friend is not any more inclined to understand their relationship, which is not revealed until the old man is dead. And then there is Bram, who has been gay all this time, and no one knew it, but he has not had the courage to tell any of them. His plight comes alive when he does not respond to a girl that likes him, but can not get a response out of him... it is one of the films finer moments, and so gently filmed, that it is hard for us, to dislike the film, its direction and style. And of course, one of the guys is unfaithful, etc, etc, and nearly ruins his own relationship to a woman that is pregnant and whom Bram happened to have liked when he was a kid.

There are few films that pack such a wallop of a story, that is, so many things to go after, and manages to keep things going for a long time, and never really bore the audience. It does so, at times, by crossing to moments of comedy .. like three of four of the guys have an awful time making it to the game, it is raining cats and dogs, and the referee drops the ball on the muddy pitch, and declares the game suspended. After all the trouble, justice is served by the weather. Like can be trying sometimes. But amidst the funny stuff of the away game at the "farm", one of the guys manages to get his mouth in trouble, and then some. All the stuff that we always look back and find funny and amusing when we look at it all later in life.

ALL STARS is far from a film that demands attention from the audience, but it has a sudden charm that attracts you to its story and plight of each character easily enough. it is shot with ease, nothing slick, or fancy here, just plain good camera work, and well designed use of the film, which might have suggested that these people had to do their work under the direst of needs and consequences, and the result is a charming film, that is very enjoyable.

The acting is rather nice, and each character is actually pretty well defined giving the idea that an ensemble has been developed and designed to prepare this thing for shooting. it's hard to tell if there are any stock characters here, as they are all different and have their own agendas.







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