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

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

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.