A feel-good footy film that’s touching, uplifting and beautifully written - this true story restores faith in the power of positivity.
Originally broadcast on BBC 2 and now streaming on Acorn TV, this feature-length biopic is a footy film (sort of) and yet so much more. Toby Jones plays the marvellous Neil Baldwin, a man with learning difficulties who lives with his mum, loves his budgies, and also has an incredible life. When Neil decides to do something, like being a circus clown, student greeter at Keele Uni, Tony Benn’s dinner guest at the Houses of Parliament, or joining the Oxbridge boat race and scoring a winning goal for his beloved Stoke City, he really means it. The only obstacles are those perceived by others, not Neil.
Based on the biography Marvellous, Neil’s story is told in a very gentle and sensitive way; it has moments that made me laugh out loud and moments that made me cry. Although there are a couple of cruel and sweary scenes, this is absolutely a movie about kindness, tenderness and acceptance.
Real Neil himself features in the film, explaining his thoughts to pretend Neil on a bus, while the real Lou Macari and real Gary Lineker also pop-up in cameo roles. Macari later said of the movie, “It’s the best 90 minutes Stoke City’s had for a long time”.
Neil’s innocence and positivity have an amazingly affirming effect on everyone he meets. His philosophy on life: “I’ve always wanted to be happy, so I decided to be.” Neil’s fearless optimism is an inspiration to us all, and just the tonic the world needs right now.
Marvellous is streaming now on Acorn TV.
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