The obvious problem with this film is that the English sounds false. But once you can suspend disbelief, the film succeeds in drawing its audience in, even the non-soccer playing ones.
It moves smoothly and supplies a lot of information about the rise of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who became known as Pelé – the greatest football player in the world. At the end of the film, we learn that Edson (Pelé) coined the term “the beautiful game” and was named the player of the century after he scored an unprecedented 1 281 goals. He was also declared a national treasure by the Brazilian president, Janio Quadros.
Even though most soccer enthusiasts will know every scene in advance, it is still riveting to watch Pelé’s unbelievable and agile performance during the 1958 World Cup in Denmark, where he was responsible for letting Brazil win the World Cup. The film starts at the beginning of Pelé’s life.
We see a young Edson playing soccer and being taught with mangoes (no less!) by his dedicated and kind father. That is where he probably learnt his topsy-turvy kicks that became his trademark.
What is also great is the respectful and dedicated way he is portrayed, not only by the two directors, but also by the actor who plays him as an adult, Kevin de Paula. His soccer-playing skills are astonishing, and he gives authority and conviction to both the sport scenes and characterisation of a legend.
You will see the real Pelé at the age of 76 when soccer-playing kids upset a bowl of sugar. There is a zest and energy to the film that moves rapidly with quick, sure-fire editing, good characterisation and functional cinematography. But it is the soccer scenes, especially the World Cup victory, that can bring an audience to its feet. Recommended if you are an admirer of Pelé or you love the beautiful game that brought him fame.