Half Time and Down (2014)

Starring: Tom Davis, Harvey Sylvester, Frankie John, Ted Reilly, Dorian Simpson, Tony Denham

Directed by: Mark-John Ford

Rating: 1 2 3

The Stanley BeaversI'll be the first to admit that I know very little about football. No matter how many times I get the off-side rule explained to me via the medium of table condiments, I still don't understand it – I'm still waiting for a giant vinegar bottle to lumber into view from the right wing. Fortunately, you don't need a firm grasp of the beautiful game to appreciate Half Time and Down, a pithy short film by The Guvnors actor turned writer/director Mark-John Ford.

Sadly, a good grasp of the game is exactly what Stanley Beavers FC lack. We meet this hopeless bunch of misfits in their dressing room before a match: alternately overweight, underfed, stoned, bored, old or just plain useless, they're like a usual suspects line up of the last kids ever to be picked for a team at school, all grown up and still without a clue. And no amount of sweary haranguing from their overbearing, bullying manager (Tom Davis) is going to kick them into shape. And of course, as the title suggests, at half time they're six goals down. Ouch. Even I know that's not good.

Frankie John and Tom Davis in Half Time and DownCue twenty minutes of blokey banter that, while often very funny, is also rather sad, picking at the scabs of the teams' lives to suggest all kind of unresolved issues lying beneath. Like Dog Soldiers crossed with Full Metal Jacket, the script captures both the casual cruelty of lads larking about and also the way in which a little bit of power can make a man (or in this case, a manager) a little bit mad.

That said, Half Time and Down is hardly subtle in its delivery (the team are, after all, called the Beavers, and every other word starts with an f), but it does a lot with a small budget and a largely unknown cast. Not entirely my cup of tea, but a promising debut all the same. Go Beavers!

Half Time and Down is available to watch on Vimeo On Demand from 1 December 2014. Find out more at IMDB.

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