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The Match Review

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There's an annual footy match on the horizon in the village of Inverdoune. Patrons of the only two pubs on the island, sawdusty Benny's Bar and sterile The Bistro, must compete. The stakes are high - who ever loses the 100th game, which this is, has to close down and with one bar having lost 99 times in a row a sense of forboding hangs over the drinkers.

★★★★★

Through the eyes of first-time Scottish writer/director Mick Davis, football is not merely a matter of 22 grown men kicking a bag of wind around a patch of grass, but - as Bill Paterson's delivery van driver poetically puts it - "the lifeblood of the working class man throughout the world".

As such, for one hundred years, the generational clientele of the fictional Highlands village of Inverdoune have held an annual match. The teams come from its only two watering holes, the sawdusty Benny's Bar and the sterile L'Bistro, honouring a bet between the bars' original owners that whoever loses the 100th game will be forced to close down. Since one of the bar teams has lost the previous 99, a pall of gloom hangs over the drinkers as the fixture approaches.

A cast-of-dozens ensemble comedy led by Grant, as terminally-vain L'Bistro owner Gorgeous Gus, and Beesley as Wullie Smith, milkman and spiritual leader of the Benny's Bar contingent, what The Match lacks in plot originality, it almost makes up for in its off-centre characterisation. Morrisey wrestles with his role as reluctant former pro-footballer Mr. Doris, known locally as "Piss off" since these are the only words he ever utters; Sizemore is larger than his locality as marooned US Air Force pilot and alcoholic Buffalo; James Cosmo is befuddled as farmer Billy Bailey who enjoys a peculiarly close relationship with a cow called Brigitte.

In terms of actorly chops, The Match sifts the wheat from the chaff in its requirement of Scottish accents: Beesley is impressive and convincing; both Morrisey and Grant are painfully poor. The Match manages to raise the required laughs, but the plot proves uninvolving and, at its lowest points, criminally predictable.

The Match manages to raise the required laughs, but the plot proves uninvolving and, at its lowest points, criminally predictable.