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Switzerland, German, 119 mins

  • Director: Marcel Gisler
  • Writer: Marcel Gisler; Thomas Hess; Frederic Moriette
  • Producer: Rudolf Santschi; Theres Scherer

CGiii Comment

First and foremost...this film should not have - by any stretch of the imagination - an '18' rating. There's no violence, there's no frontal nudity [a few butt-cheeks, not enough!], there's no drug abuse...it's just a tender and tense love-story between two young men. It's is wholly ridiculous...considering most soap operas have more controversy and age inappropriate scenes crammed into their [usually] miserable 30 minutes...yet, Mario is rated 18!!!

Mario is a no-nonsense, straight-forward look at homosexuality in football. Everyone knows it exists...it's a ludicrous notion to think it doesn't...but, quite a few brain-cell deficient football fans actually do believe that their 'alpha-male' idols are unequivocally, no-doubt-about-it, 100% hands-down heterosexual...well, babies, they once said that about priests!

Now, the film-world is not exactly over-flowing with gay football films. There was the lamentable & heavy-handed The Pass (2016) and, in the same year, the - rather wonderful - short film Wonderkid - there have been others: Guy and Balls (2004), Eleven Men Out (2005), KickOff (2009) - but, these are fussy little light-weight comedies...and then, there are the documentaries...most notably, the Justin Fashanu 'tragedy'.

Mario is neither a comedy nor a tragedy. This is about hard choices and thick skin...if you can't take the [homophobic] stick then stay off of the [footballing] pitch! It sounds fairly similar to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell debacle!

Until all sexual orientations are accepted and fully embraced by all sexual orientations...compromises are always going to be the rule rather than the alternative. Marcel Gisler's well-acted film shows this compromise from the only two perspectives that exist...there's the living-the-lie for a greater [personal] glory [aka fame & fortune]..or, there's the sacrifice, give it all up for self-preservation...it all depends on how thick your skin is! Harsh, indeed it is...but, that's still the reality.

Will Mario change hearts and minds? Unfortunately, no...and our only quibble with the film, the marketing/packaging. This was marketed as a gay football film, why not a football film that just happens to have a couple of gay footballers? A whole new [bigger] audience!

But...it does leave you with ample food for thought: If faced with the same opportunities, what would you do?

A fine film that will - no doubt - elicit many heated, gin-infused discussions.


The(ir) Blurb...

There’s a ripple of disquiet in the locker-room when Leon, a new striker, joins the football team. Sharing a flat with keen rival Mario sets the scene for an unexpected love affair, but the path of gay love in this macho world is not an easy one. Mario is unwilling or unable to acknowledge the implications of what is happening. But pretend girlfriends don’t fool everyone. And gossip, along with the threat of blackmail, unbalances the team’s morale. With the prospect of a professional career a strong possibility, will Mario forsake the hope of emotional satisfaction for professional gain? This heart-warming rollercoaster of a film, set on and off the pitch, offers a dynamic and realistic picture of how gay professional footballers are still seen as out of step in the 21st century.

Brian Robinson

Mario ist zum ersten Mal im Leben verliebt, so richtig verknallt. In Leon, den Neuen aus Deutschland. Der spielt zwar auch vorne im Sturm und könnte ihm sogar gefährlich werden, wenn es darum geht, wer in die Erste Mannschaft aufsteigen kann. Doch daran mag Mario jetzt nicht denken. Er will Leon spüren, riechen, in seiner Nähe sein. Das bleibt auch anderen im Klub nicht verborgen und schon bald machen erste Gerüchte die Runde. Mario sieht seine Karriere als Profi-Fussballer in Gefahr, will aber gleichzeitig Leon um keinen Preis verlieren. Er muss eine Entscheidung treffen.

Cast & Characters

Max Hubacher as Mario Lüthi;
Aaron Altaras as Leon Saldo;
Jessy Moravec as Jenny Odermatt;
Jürg Plüss as Daniel Lüthi;
Doro Müggler as Evelyn Lüthi;
Andreas Matti as Spielerberater Peter Gehrling;
Scherwin Amini as Claudio Lafranconi (Spieler YB U21);
Fabrizio Borsani as Luc Columbier (Spieler YB U21);
Julian Koechlin as Eric Kalterer (Spieler YB U21);
Gabriel Noah Maurer as Simon Bucher (Spieler YB U21);
Stallone Anderson as Lukas Ammann (Spieler YB U21);
Joris Gratwohl as Roger Maillard (Trainer);
Joshua Schmidli as Damjan Paujic (Spieler YB U21);
Manuel Pereira as Hélio Bomcampo (Assistenztrainer);
Tom Burri as Tom Burri (Physiotherapeut)

From the same director:

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