A man in his 40s, friend of director Corneliu Porumboiu, has ideas for a new set of rules for the game of football. He thinks the ball doesn’t travel fast enough on the pitch, therefore he envisions an octagonal field, with the team divided in 2 sub-teams of defenders & attackers. He wants to “free the ball”. We see his daily life, working for the State as a bureaucrat. At one point he compares himself to the double lives of Superman / Spiderman, living the drab office existence while later changing into a sports reformer.
But this is not a portrait of the “beautiful nutcase” type, the ordinary yet visionary man. Infinite Football slowly turns into something else. By telling the story of his life’s trials and misses, its hero becomes the unforced metaphor for his countrymen’s destiny in the past 30 years since the fall of communism. He tells the story of an accident that ended any hope for an athletic career, his desire to move to America cut off by 9/11, his enthusiasm for the 2007 Romanian EU ascension cut off by the following economic crisis.
The ending breaks away from subject and pushes the film into the visual poetry. A surreal slow motion travel along a deserted blueish country road acts as a backdrop for the character rumination about the mistakes in translation of the Bible, where Jesus’s supposed “Repent!” advice was written instead of a deeper “Know!” or “Discover!”. I can’t remember the exact term, but the profound yet unaffected way in which this film ends filled my chest with warmth.
Without seeing it, Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry feels a natural companion.