Bankrolled by FIFA — re­ally

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Michael Recht­shaf fen “United Pas­sions.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 50 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hol­ly­wood.

A con­tender for most ill­timed movie of 2015 is “United Pas­sions,” a fic­tion­al­ized chron­i­cle of the life and times of FIFA, the Zurich-based in­ter­na­tional soc­cer al­liance reel­ing from a bribery scan­dal.

But irony is the least of the film’s is­sues.

Bankrolled by FIFA for an es­ti­mated $29 mil­lion, the bloated, talky epic star­ring Ger­ard Depardieu, Sam Neill and Tim Roth comes across as a squirm-in­duc­ing heap of pro­pa­ganda at its most self­con­grat­u­la­tory.

It’s no mean feat to cram a cen­tury-plus of off-field his­tory into a two-hour fea­ture, but direc­tor Frédéric Auburtin, who co-wrote the stiffly earnest script with Jean-Paul Delfino, comes up se­ri­ously short of the in­tended goal.

As the prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tects of FIFA’s vi­sion, Depardieu (as Jules Rimet), Neill (as João Have­lange) and Roth (as for­mer FIFA Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter, who re­signed this week amid the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions) are hin­dered by all the end­less speechi­fy­ing as a suc­ces­sion of game-chang­ing events, from the Great De­pres­sion to World War II to apartheid, each re­quire re­newed de­bate.

Neill’s Have­lange prob­a­bly gets to the heart of the movie with the con­tention that “pol­i­tics and sport are in­sep­a­ra­ble.” But “United Pas­sions,” with its clash­ing, pro­duc­tion part­ner-man­dated Eu­rop­ud­ding of ac­cents, fails to find a uni­fy­ing voice.

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