Kicking It: Homeless Athletes on the Soccer Pitch

Vagrants apparently don't need a home address to feel a patriotic duty to their homeland, or so attests Susan Koch's good-hearted but artless ESPN-presented doc on the competitors in the 2006 annual Homeless World Cup. Organization prez Mel Young, a Scotsman who strives to help raise awareness and improve lives, claims that soccer "can be used to tackle some of the most difficult problems in society," though that's never actually verified in this game-footage-overloaded film. Whether coming from Young's mouth or one of the optimistic players (most of whom have journeyed far from losing situations to the Cape Town competition, only to potentially lose more—a sad irony never addressed), the film's wall-to-wall hyperbolic rhetoric never inspires, perhaps because there are too many characters here for any single one to register: There's a Kenyan, a Russian, an Afghan, a North Carolinian, a 62-year-old former bank robber from Spain, and a methadone-addicted Dubliner who gives the title its dual meaning. It's hard to imagine how Koch could have made her film any more heavy-handed: perhaps by adding U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" to the soundtrack or having the narration delivered by Colin Farrell—both of which, inevitably enough, the director does.

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