Starring: Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell
Director: David Evans
Being a suffering Tottenham fan, the last thing I want to get entertainment from is one of the centuries most exciting football moments featuring my arch-rivals, Arsenal. This film is based on the book by Arsenal fan, Nick Hornby, which chronicled his reluctant love affair with the Gunners. The story starts in the late 60s when the moody youngster was dragged to Highbury by his father and ends with the last minute goal at Anfield which captured the 1989 league title.
While the book was essentially an autobiography, the film centres on characters suggested by the book and not actually on Hornby himself. Colin Firth is Paul, a die-hard Arsenal fan who finds that criticising his favourite team is the only way to ease the pain of defeat. Ruth Gemmell is Sarah, a tight, organised independent woman who can’t stand the sight of him. They both work at the local grammar school and despite being total opposites, fall for each other against all the odds.
Trouble starts to rear its head when Paul’s obsession with Arsenal starts to crowd Sarah out when she fails to understand his enthusiasm for 11 grown men. As a result, Paul has to choose which is more important to him, Arsenal winning the league or pursuing his love affair with Sarah.
‘Fever Pitch’ left me feeling mildly emotional I have to admit. I think it is actually a crime for a Spurs fan to feel that way while watching Arsenal winning the league so, you know, don’t tell anyone. The reason it is an emotional story is mainly down to the characterisations by Firth and Gemmell who are electric on screen. One can see it from two sides. Firth has spent 20 years going to Highbury and has waited 18 years for them to win the league – the arrival of a woman, no matter how much he loves her, is not going to deflect him from his passion. For Sarah, simple things in life should not be put on the back burner at the expense of a football match. Family and work should be the most important things to her, something Paul scoffs at.
‘Fever Pitch’ is lightweight and narrow in scope but still manages to be continually funny. Much of the praise for this as mentioned goes to the two leads and director, David Evans. Paul tries his damndest to explain his point of view and this is countered by Sarah who equally makes sense in her efforts. Arsenal aside, the story leaves you warm and amused.
‘Fever Pitch’ is a worthy movie and one of the most entertaining feel-good comedies since ‘City Slickers’.