Even though the story itself doesn’t offer anything new, the filmmakers at least try to do something different.
The new film Inside Story, a joint effort from South Africa and Kenya, tells the story of a poor African boy who dreams of making it to the big football (soccer) leagues of Europe’s elite. The film also plays like a Lifetime Channel documentary on the HIV/AIDS virus. This combination of feature narrative/informational documentary sometimes comes off clunky, but the film’s messages along with the surprisingly good performances make for an entertaining film to watch.
Inside Story starts with our hero Kalu as he plays in a match for his local football team. His team wins the game, but their coach isn’t satisfied with the team as they refuse to play as one. He tells them a scout for a bigger club will be watching their next match and warns them that if they do not play well together, the consequences will not be good. During this time we also find out that this story is being told through an interview with a media outlet and what we see is past experiences being told through Kalu’s narration of the story.
The next match comes around and the scout is impressed enough with Kalu’s performance that he offers to represent him. As you might expect, Kalu is overjoyed. Later that night, he meets up with a girl that he frequently hangs out with. They make love and through Kalu’s narration we find out he has contracted the HIV virus from her. At this point the film introduces cut scenes where Kalu narrates computer generated shots of blood cells, veins, internal organs and how the HIV virus affects the human body.
I have to admit these scenes were a little distracting as they took viewers away from the drama of the story. But seeing as how the target audience is future generations of a continent that has parts ravaged by the disease, it’s hard to fault the film for putting in scenes like these for learning purposes. However, these scenes are few and far between. People who love the sport will get plenty of scenes of Kalu and his team playing the beautiful game of football.
As far as the rest of the film goes, it’s a pretty routine sports underdog film. Kalu falls in love with the wrong girl (coach’s daughter), pisses off the owner of the club (who has a crush on her as well) and even finds time to piss of the star of his new team only for them to become great friends. Everything plays out how one expects them to in the end, making the film rather predictable.
But let’s face it; Inside Story isn’t trying to break any new ground here. They take the world’s most popular sport and use it as a backdrop for a story about a young kid who faces a harsh reality and presents it to young teens as a tool to contemplate certain life choices. And for that I certainly not fault it. Inside Story’s messages also resonate well. Work hard, don’t give up. When playing for a team, play as one. While, I don’t think the film works entirely and the whole thing is completely predictable, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse attempts at a sport film. This one at least tries to do something different.
By taking the world’s most popular sport and using it as a backdrop for a story about a young kid who faces a harsh reality, the filmmakers present the film to young teens as a tool to educate them on making certain life choices. And for that I certainly cannot fault them. Inside Story’s life messages resonate well with the obvious sport references; work hard, don’t give up, and play as a team. While I don’t think the film works as a whole and is utterly predictable for the most part, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse sports films. Even though the story itself doesn’t offer anything new, the filmmakers at least try to do something different.