Then on the Wednesday it was time for a trip to Covent Garden to check out Kicks, a low budget British film with football at it's heart, perfect preparation for a world cup methinks...
The plot revolves entirely around Jasmine and Nicole, two young girls in growing up in Liverpool, both with a major league crush on a promising footballer named Lee Cassidy. As they drift through the city they are buoyed by fleeting glimpses of the player before an imminent move to Real Madrid provokes them into taking extreme action.
It is perhaps rather fitting that I am writing this on the very day England have beaten Slovenia to secure progress into the last 16 of World Cup 2010. My afternoon was a combination of nervous tension followed by a sense of relief tempered with questions about what is yet to come. These feelings are the reasons I love the game but then there must be further unquantifiable qualities. Thus, while on one level it is pretty clear why the girls stalk Lee, he is attractive and rich with an exciting lifestyle, there is still an element of the illogical in the fixation as the film progresses. The obsession is confusing, it's unclear whether they want the man himself or what he represents and this elusive nature is what makes it feel generally quite convincing. Football and love are not easily explainable so to combine the two makes for intriguing obfuscation, to this fans eyes at least.
Alongside the excitement of the football there is a sinister edge that runs throughout. The girls must contend with physically and emotionally absent parents so they take refuge in dressing up and renovating a caravan, all the while fuelling their obsession with talk of fate and the future. Jasmine is mega keen on becoming a footballers wife and Nicole scarily focused on being with Lee. The most uncomfortable moments are the developing hints of sex as the girls sweet naivete and burgeoning desires are revealed in unison. As the game ratchets up a notch it becomes apparent that what Lee is interested in is not very nice, an easy but necessary comment to make on footballers in general. The tension as the three characters confront each other is well constructed and the power they hold over each other is well explored but ultimately the situation falls a little flat.
In a sense the performances are fine, but then they are never totally convincing and although the threat is a low, constant throbbing it is not really followed through on. There are essentially three characters and the focus is very much on the girls and a rites of passage story which occasionally deviates from the norm but is generally a mixture of positive and negative experiences. The long silences and urban backdrops give it a gritty feel although it adds dashes of colour and language as the girls interact in what appears to be a fairly accurate portrayal of female teenagers in love. However the most important and interesting relationship is in fact between Nicola and Jasmine as they fight outside forces to stick together. It's a feisty display of sisterhood that doesn't require a slick plot device or clunky back story, just the ambiguous weaving of life, love and football.
Unfortunately the failure to capitalise on the sinister aspects of the tale is something of a disappointment, but then there's plenty of promise and potential, even the abrupt ending allowed for some minor speculation. Next up on the list was be the chance to see how young Noel Clarke would deal with tough girls fighting back... In their underwear.