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Fulboy

August 20, 2018

FBOn the verge of achieving his dream career, Tomás allows his older brother Martin Farina an inside look at his life as a professional football player. Martin, never able to fulfill his own dream of playing football, steps into the world of Tomás and his teammates through the lens of his camera. However, the rest of the club has their own opinions, some viewing Martin as an intruder, as he exposes their most vulnerable moments, and their concerns for the future after the game has ended. Fulboy offers an uncensored, confessional look at how the athletes behind the most popular sport in the world behave during their time off the field. At the same time, Fulboy reflexively interrogates Farina’s aesthetic choices and point-of-view, as well as the viewer’s gaze at the male form.

There are shower scenes and some male nudity and that seems to be the angle being pushed – and it falls way short of that particular sales pitch. Then as a revealing football documentary it is also somewhat banal with players moaning about being called names when they are sheeit on the pitch. Where I did like it was the social commentary and the shots of the fans. Some of these were insightful and funny. I really like the kids saying to one player ‘go and play cards instead’ – in England we tend to infer that they have a slavish addiction to ‘onanism’ – as an alternative.

The director’s slightly pretentious narration talks about how he decided to stay off camera, but that you’ll learn about him through the gaze of his camera lens. If that’s true, it suggests a fascination with the men’s bodies and their casual nudity around one another. Farina films them extensively in the shower and locker room, with the camera often following their groin area around, so you’re not even sure which one of them it is, as their face isn’t in the shot. Indeed, you have to wonder whether the men knew this was going to be a strong aspect of the film, and also whether they noticed that Farina was following their genitals (both covered and uncovered) around with his camera.

A conversation among the team’s obviously less well-paid support and maintenance staff about a player’s purchase of a USD $1000 mobile phone, or about how they have to pamper them before a game; a mass, metrosexual costume change as the team tries on free clothes from various sponsors; dry-shaving hairy body parts — for me all that becomes incontrovertible evidence that, despite the fact that these young men are exploited by the clubs and by the system, they’re still a lot better off than a typical taxi driver in el capital, or that construction worker outside the window enjoying the weather.

The point is made at least twice that a fútbolista’s career is usually up before he’s 35; so he must kick the ball down the field while his legs and hips are still strong — while he’s still hot.

In one shot near the end of the film, the audio of a coach’s pregame exhortations plays over a group reaction-shot of the team, some players bemused, some distracted, some not listening at all. We’re never shown the coach. His breathless but monotone rant continues, reminding the players of why they play — not for glory, but for family

This all makes for an unusual documentary and one where a love of football is not a prerequisite.  It provides an insight into the male ego, and how sportsmen behave away from the gaze of fans.  It forms a showcase for the grueling training involved in just keeping on top of your game, and the time spent waiting around for that 90 minute game – it becomes something of a confessional piece, offering each player a chance for an interview without questions, allowing them to make their own statement about themselves, their teammates and the beautiful game.

Fulboy director Martin Farina was born in Buenos Aires in 1982 and has a degree in communications from the Universidad Nacional de La Matanza, where he also studied music and philosophy.  Farina is a member of La Otra Radio, a radio program on cinema culture in Argentina and regularly produces industrial reels, music videos and commercials.  Farina has worked as a cinematographer, writer, director and producer on both Fulboy and his other 2015 documentary, El Hombre de Paso Piedra.

 

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From → Film, Sexuality

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