Dir: Michael Corrente. UK-US. 2000. 114 mins.
Prod Co: Eagle Beach Productions, Butcher's Run Productions. Int'l Sales: Seven Arts International (1) 323 467 1822. Prods: Michael Corrente, Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner. Exec Prods: Billy Heinzerling, Steven Bowman, Denis O'Neil. Scr: Denis O'Neil. DoP: Alex Thomson. Prod des: Andy Harris. Ed: David Ray. Mus: Mark Knopfler. Main cast: Robert Duvall, Michael Keaton, Ally McCoist, Brian Cox, Kirsty Mitchell.
A labour of love for actor-producer Robert Duvall, A Shot At Glory leaves no cliche unvisited as it charts the fairytale progress of an underdog Scottish football team towards a Cup Final showdown. Authentic sporting sequences and the presence of real-life star striker Ally McCoist should help the film find an audience in the UK market. The hackneyed storyline and heavy accents will probably confine it to the benches in most other territories.
Developed by Duvall over the past seven years, the film unfolds in a romanticised, picture postcard vision of Scotland. Handicapped by a wayward accent that he seems unable to control, Duvall is Gordon McLeod, a dour football coach guiding the small Highland team of Kilnochie towards their date with destiny. Matters are complicated by the signing of star player Jackie McQuillon (McCoist), a hotheaded, self-destructive talent who also happens to be McLeod's despised son-in-law. The stakes are raised by the news that the team's American owner (Keaton) intends to relocate them to Ireland if they fail in their impossible dream of securing the cup.
To its credit, the film does capture a flavour of the game's life and death importance in Scotland and the sectarianism that surrounds it at the lowest level. Rabid fans, foolish media pundits and the pressures on the players all receive due consideration. However, the personal issues of family reconciliation and individual redemption are laboured and lack depth or conviction.
Familiar fare that some may find embarrassingly naive, A Shot At Glory is all the more disappointing when measured against the compelling sense of character and place that Duvall was able to reveal in his previous labour of love, The Apostle.