What if I were to tell you that there is a film you can watch that brings Ray Winstone and Football together without his head screaming the latest Bet 365 in-play offer at you? Well, as unlikely as this seems, it is true and the film has been around a lot longer than in-play betting (Ray even has luscious on-screen locks!). The film goes by the title ‘There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble’ and despite being released in 2000, my mention of the title amongst film and football fans alike often produces a mystified look and questions along the lines of ‘who’s Jimmy Grimble?’.
Well here’s the answer: Jimmy Grimble is a nobody. A Manchester City fan who, by his own admission, is ‘trapped in the heart of a United jungle’ (Greenock High School). Not interested in much else, football is Jimmy’s escape from merciless pretty boy, and resident school bully, Gordon Burley – although it doesn’t help that Burley is the school football team’s best player. The skewer around which the storyline winds is the Manchester Schools Cup and Greenock’s progression within the tournament.
But a mere Cinderella story this is not. Greenock is located in an area of Manchester rife with deprivation and the football within the film begins to serve the purpose of relief from some extremely real and well thought out sub-stories. Indeed, Jimmy’s is not a nuclear family and the progression of his mother’s relationships provide a story all on their own. Then there’s the PE Teacher, Mr Wirrall (Robert Carlyle), and his struggle to cope with life after professional football. Add to this mix Ken Burley, Gordon’s father, who will do anything at all to ensure his son makes it as a pro and plays above his mediocre level at Crewe.
Indeed, it’s easy to see why one would need the relief of the football and yet none of these are the most important sub-plot in the film. That honour falls upon an old lady living in a set of council houses ready for demolition. Jimmy meets said woman by chance as he sprints to escape another kicking from Burley and co, and after spending years thinking his motor neurons were stopping his footballing abilities this chance meeting would change Jimmy’s life. Mrs Brewer bestows upon Jimmy a pair of football boots reminiscent of a time when football boots were actually boots with the promise that these are magic, a notion the viewer begins to believe as they see Grimble become the Messi of the Manchester Schools Cup.
Without giving the entire story away there isn’t much else I can say about this one other than make a nod to the cast. With Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone, Gina McKee and Ben Miller in tow the beauty of this small-scale film lies in the ability of these seasoned actors to support the younger actors Lewis McKenzie, Ciaran Griffiths and Samia Longchambon (nee Ghadie) to name a few through the process of crafting a well thought out narrative. Indeed, of these three two have gone on to become successful actors in their own rights with Samia occupying the longstanding role of Maria in Coronation Street and Ciaran starring as Mickey Maguire in Shameless for five years. Not a bad cast, eh?
In addition, I decided to do a little research and compare this film with others that have the same 6.6 rating on movie website IMDb. I decided I’d bring my comparisons here with children’s films only as this is just that, a film focused at a young audience. However, I was shocked to see that the film rated as highly as classics such as The Polar Express and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York as well as, the not so classic but still pretty good, The Secret Life of Pets. The phrase ‘illustrious company’ may be pushing it, but there’s no doubt that a 6.6 is good going.
So why have very few heard of this film, especially when it won the Berlin International Film Festival Best Picture Award? Well it had a limited release at Box Office and from my research the DVD is online but it’s not one that you can really shop around to buy with limited retailers stocking it. Your best bet if you’re interested is to buy from a download site such as iTunes or Amazon video, but this one is well worth a watch.