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Stars: Gareth Damien Lewis, Bob Hoskins, Perry Eggleton, Alice Krige, Branko Tomovic

Director: Ellen Perry

Watching this sugar-saturated and super-sentimental saga – which resembles a long ago and rightly neglected Children’s Film Foundation opus, to be inflicted on luckless kids unable to make a run for the exits – I rapidly lost the will to live.

11-year-old Eggleton is a pupil at a Catholic boarding school in England and is “Liverpool FC’s biggest fan”, impressing football-obsessed fellow pupils with his knowledge of the game. Everything changes for the lad when his long-absent father Lewis (who must have been relieved to leave the film early on) re-enters his life, gives him tickets to the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul and promises to take Eggleton to see the game. But Lewis dies (and his son runs away, heading for Istanbul on an unbelievable odyssey that teams him with traumatised former Yugoslavian football star Tomovic …)

You can’t doubt the sincerity of producers-screenwriters Zack and Ellen Perry, the latter doubling as director. Perry’s sincerity is patent. She states: “We recognize the pain and pathos that too often dominates the world. But we wanted to make a film that inspired and respected our audience. We wanted to add our modest light to the sum of light”.

Maybe so. Unfortunately the end product combines naivety with tedium. First-timer Eggleton doesn't actually disgrace himself, Krige playing a stern but loveable nun/teacher deserves our sympathy, while Hoskins' turn as a loveable cockney publican is so overdone he appears to be auditioning for Alfred Doolittle in a repertory production of My Fair Lady.

Football fanatics might enjoy watching the acting abilities of Kenny Daglish, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Paul McGratten. Otherwise, Will is strictly for insomniacs in search of sleep.

Medical warning! So much sugar is involved the film could pose a danger to diabetics.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Nov 2011