Tuesday, March 2, 2021

film review: The End of the Storm



Directed by James Erskine

Written by James Erskine

ChinoKino score: D

Review by Allan Tong

The End of the Storm plays like one of those glossy mini-hagiographies that sports networks run during intermissions to keep hometown fans cheering between halves and periods. The big difference is that End of the Storm runs for 99 agonizing minutes and hypes the entire Liverpool football club who topped the Premier League in 2019-20. 

I'm not slagging Liverpool FC at all. They're a great team. Legends. But this documentary is such an obvious exercise in corporate P.R. that I get no sense of what it's really like for them to compete in the top football (soccer) league on the planet. Pro football is big business, where coaches are turfed when their team slides or players are hounded by fans when they slump. The pressure is enormous, the egos are explosive and the fan expectations unrealistic. You get none of that in this film.

Instead, you see an endless parade of players and coach Jurgen Klopp commenting on camera how they felt at a particular Big Moment. These interruptions keep yanking the viewer out of the drama of a game, and tell us what is happening on the pitch instead of letting the action unfold. This is beyond annoying. Meanwhile, each player profile feels like it's been through a saccharine P.R. machine where each player, regardless of whether he comes from England or Egypt, is portrayed as a nice member of the "family," which is the oldest cliche in sports. You expect the Liverpool FC to join hands any moment and sing Kumbaya on the pitch.

Another sports doc convention, profiling individual fans, could have been interesting, because the film includes Liverpool supporters from as far as India and the United States. However, this too falls flat, because the fans blandly chime the same tune, that the team changed their lives. Blah blah blah.

Only the staunchest Liverpool FC fans will watch this film and if they enjoy it, hey, that's fine. I love sports. I get it. But the rest of us--football fans, lovers of sports docs and casual fans--will tune out. If you want to see a pro football team really operate, then watch All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur on Prime, or Sunderland 'Til I Die on Netflix. (Disclosure: I'm not a fan of any of these teams.)

The End of the Storm is now available on VOD.

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