Stars: Max Hubacher, Aaron Altaras, Jessy Moravec, Joris Gratwohl, Andreas Matti
Just in time for the Russian World Cup with its attendant concerns of that country’s less than enlightened treatment of the LGBT community, comes this tender, but rather rote gay footballing love story. Mario (Hubacher) is the Swiss blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy-most-likely-to striker for an under-21 team, groomed for success by his ex-footballer father. Everyone assumes Mario’s old friend Jenny (Moravec) is his girlfriend, a perception that he is happy to go along with. Then, handsome German player Leon (Altaras) joins the team. Initially the teammates snub Leon over his reluctance to pass the ball, but Mario sticks up for him and a friendship develops. Later when the players are relocated to apartments, Mario and Leon are selected to share a room. They make love and an affair ensues. While Mario is more furtive and concerned about the repercussions on his career, Leon is more bold and defiant. Mario’s trainer, Herr Gehrling (Matti), is sympathetic but pragmatic, insisting to Mario that he must keep up the pretence of being straight if he is to have any chance of making it in professional football. The leisurely paced story takes too much time bringing the characters together, imbuing it with a rather quaint and old-fashioned quality, in comparison with such home-grown pictures as ‘Weekend’ and ‘God’s Own Country’. Later scenes in which the pressure of leading a false life take its strain on Mario are far more compelling, and the story is elevated by the performances, with the leads exhibiting a real opposites-attract chemistry. As Mario, Hubacher is an appealing mix of boyish enthusiasm and guarded vulnerability.