The Referees (Les Arbitres)

"Very Good"

The Referees (Les Arbitres) Review


This fly-on-the-wall doc takes an unusual look at the biggest sport on earth as it follows top referees through the UEFA Euro 2008 championship. The approach is extremely low-key, with no narration or on-screen captions, and the result is a distinctly new look at the game.

Without any real narrative, the film takes the referees' point of view at a series of big matches, as we see them in action and hear the chatter on their radio channel. We follow well-known refs including Webb from England, Rosetti from Italy and Frojdfeldt from Sweden before, during and after the matches, witnessing the interaction behind the scenes as they support or sometimes second-guess each others' decisions. The film quietly traces the championship using a variety of languages as the refs interact with players and officials, and we also see Webb's and Rosetti's family members back home as they on their referee stars.

This unfussy film is cleanly assembled from sharp footage that cleverly catches each aspect of a referee's job. We see the refs deal with pre-match jitters in a variety of ways, including intense physical workouts. And afterwards, we follow them into a series of debriefings. It's clearly a high-pressure job, drawing strong abuse from everyone on and off the pitch, including death threats from disgruntled fans (Webb is the subject of national rage from Poland).

Clearly a very thick skin is required to be a referee at this level of sport, and these men have a confidence that makes them fascinating characters for a documentary. So does their top-athlete level of fitness, and several of them have movie-star looks. They're such strong figures that we are gripped by the way they talk to each other in the locker-room and, especially, to players on the pitch.

Still, there's not much in the way of analysis here. What makes the film so watchable is the way it takes us into this secret world so we can see how referees, managers, officials and even players get ready for the matches, deal with the politics of sport, and revisit matches on tape to refine their role.

In other words, it's essential viewing for football fans.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Production compaines: Entre Chien et Loup

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Yves Hinant, Eric Cardot, Delphine Lehericey

Producer: Thibaut Potdevin

Starring: Howard Webb as Himself, Manuel Mejuto González as Himself, Roberto Rosetti as Himself, Michel Platini as Himself, Peter Fröjdfeldt as Himself, Massimo Busacca as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.