There’s a game in England that’s quite popular. It’s called Football. Fans get really quite into this game, sometimes to the point of obsessional behaviour regarding the players themselves, not unlike the way teenage girls fling themselves (though alas not from high powered catapults) at Justin Bieber.
This coming of age movie, In The Hands Of The Gods, is the true story of five friends, Sami Hall Bassam, Mikey Fisher, Jeremy Lynch, Danny Robinson and Paul Wood, from England, all of them freestyle footballers who embarked on a journey across the Americas in the hope of meeting their hero, Diego Maradona. It’s not an easy trip either, they have very little money and have to work to earn more, frequently going hungry and sleeping rough, getting first hand experience of the world and finding out about themselves as they find out more about each other, and indeed their eventual goal, Maradona himself.
Directors Benjamin and Gabe Turner have made this documentary in an unusually filmic style and cast their “performers” well, as they are all from very diverse backgrounds, one is very much into God, another is into drugs…you get the idea. All of them are united however by their love of football and it is their skill with the ball that they exploit to provide them with the means to travel the massive continent, putting on freestyle displays of their prowess in the street, basically sports buskers. Though the game itself underpins the whole movie, it’s the five characters of these young lads that is the main and most fascinating focus, seeing how their relationships change and develop as their adventure progresses and watching them come to an awareness of the wider world, forever changed by their experiences and changed for the better. Not all of them are as likeable as others but that’s to be expected , especially with such an intimate study as this on such a small group of people.
In a way the film works best as a strange travelogue, showing us a huge variety of places and experiences on the journey all with the linking narrative of the characters development. Sometimes it does seem more like a fictional narrative, so neatly is the story woven together and I suspect that the editor deserves a lot of the credit for this. An absorbing and unusual documentary that’s worth seeing more than once, whether you love football or not!
Director: Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner
Casts: Sami Hall Bassam, Mikey Fisher, Jeremy Lynch, Danny Robinson, Paul Wood