Starring: Ulrich Thomsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Cyron Melville
Director: Kasper Barfoed
Running Time: 93 mins
Summer Of ’92 (Sommeren ’92) is a Danish film about the miraculous story of the Danish national football team and their manager, as they went from their darkest days to taking the world by storm at the 1992 European Championships.
Having watched countless football films and been generally disappointed, I’m always a little sceptical when going into a film that deals with the beautiful game. However, Summer Of ’92 is by far one of the best football films out there, with a charming underdog story that works with good humour and strong characterisation that makes the film about so much more than just the on-field action.
Now, my issues with films about football have nothing to do with my thoughts of the sport itself, but it appears that the typical do-or-die to the last moment formula which works so well for the likes of basketball and American football just doesn’t with association football. And that’s why films like Summer Of ’92 stand out, because while there’s entertainment with on-field action, the core of the film’s intrigue comes from its characters, most of all manager Richard Møller Nielsen.
Much like the way The Damned United delves deep into the psyche of legendary manager Brian Clough, Summer Of ’92 takes a look at the Danish football manager as an individual, and how his own personal development played a role in the story of his team of underdogs taking the world by storm at the Euros in 1992.
In fact, this film shares a lot of narrative similarities with The Damned United, but the biggest difference lies in its sense of humour, with Summer Of ’92 taking a much lighter-hearted approach to a similar story, playing up the charming underdog qualities of the Danish national team on its attempts to craft an uplifting sporting story.
Now, I have to say that that lighter approach to the story means Summer Of ’92 is never quite as engrossing as The Damned United, but it does at least manage to find time for effective characterisation of the manager, a man with a real talent for football coaching, but lacks the charisma to motivate his team.
And what’s more is that the film balances that with good humour and a charming, uplifting underdog story. Better still, as a Scandinavian film, there’s barely a moment of Hollywood cheese to be seen, making the film a thoroughly likable and enjoyable watch at the same time, proving a real delight that proves that not all football movies are doomed from the start, and that’s why I’m giving Summer Of ’92 a 7.5 overall.