United Passions is a 2014 English-language French sports-drama film about the founding of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). It was 90% funded by them in an attempt to convince people that they weren't corrupt following the controversy surrounding the bidding processes for the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cups. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2014.
The film had a limited theatrical run in the United States on June 5, 2015, only premiering in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Kansas City, Missouri, Miami, Minneapolis, Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia. What made the film notorious in the U.S. was the fact that shortly after the film's release, several FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges (the main point the film was trying to argue against) and having the worst box office opening weekend ever in 10 theaters, with $918 (yes, really, nine hundred and eighteen dollars) only being made of its $25-to-$32 million budget. Worldwide the film earned $170,000. It currently holds the record as the lowest-grossing film of all time in the United States, breaking the record previously held by I Kissed a Vampire in 2012.
A group of passionate European mavericks join forces on an ambitious project: the Federation Internationale of Football Association (FIFA). An epic, untold story that brings to life the inspiring saga of the World cup and the three determined men who created it. Driven by their vision and passion, Jules Rimet, João Havelange and Sepp Blatter, overcame their doubts and fought obstacles and scandals to make the World Cup a reality. Spanning the tumultuous 20th Century, this timeless saga celebrates the game that, despite it all, became not just a worldwide sport, but an expression of hope, spirit, and unity.
- The film's official description on FIFA's website.
Why This Film Loses the World Cup
- The film is merely a propaganda film about FIFA's history, with all evidence of their acts of corruption being ignored. Even the cast knew this, with them trying to inject very subtle jabs at their corruption. Not only that, but it also tries to manipulate others into making people think they're anything but corrupt.
- Sepp Blatter is portrayed as being honest and against corruption, even though he was one of the major culprits in the corruption scandal.
- He is introduced on screen with the words "Blatter was apparently good at finding money", without any irony or self-awareness. Thought this might've been intentional as stated in the first pointer.
- The plot point at the end of the movie is about Blatter's 2006 impeachment, which portrayed Blatter as an honest man who's a group of corrupted FIFA officials attempted to kick him out but failed due to Blatter threatened them to expose their ill deeds. While in reality is vice-versa.
- Dull and often laughably bad dialogue.
- Stock footage from previous World Cups is often abused throughout the film, without any re-enactments of the previous games.
- Bad acting, even from experienced actors like Tim Roth, who later regretted appearing in the film, admitting that he only starred in it for the money.
- Weird casting: the New Zealander Sam Neil is cast as the Brazilian João Havelange.
- At one point in the film, João Havelange actually compares the efforts of FIFA to being the work of God, blatantly giving away this film's propaganda.
- Generic and forgettable "inspirational drama" soundtrack.
- All the British characters are negatively portrayed as racist. Which, to be fair, isn't a completely untrue depiction of their historical counterparts (for instance, a pro-Apartheid statement that the film's version of Sir Stanley Rous makes is actually taken word-for-word from a speech by the real Rous), but the movie singles out the British characters while completely ignoring the fact that their counterparts from other countries were just as bad.
- The color grading is horrendous.
- Blatant product placement for Coca-Cola and Adidas (who in turn, are FIFA sponsors), with the rights acquisition by FIFA even being a plot point.
- The creation of the first-ever FIFA World Cup, which actually is the kind of thing you could make a decent movie about, is relegated to just the first act, and handled in an incredibly rushed manner.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- Most of the production value, such as the sets and clothing are alright and historically accurate.
Upon the film's United States limited theatrical release, the film was universally panned by critics and the audiences alike, who lambasted the film as a propaganda, earning a 0% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 1 on Metacritic (a score also shared with Bio-Dome) and a 2.0 rating out of 10 on IMDb. It has been hailed as one of the worst films ever made. In 2016, WatchMojo.Com ranked the film #5 on their list "Top 10 Worst Movies Of the 2010s So Far".
At the 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards, United Passions was presented with the Barry L. Bumstead Award, a special award given to films that were critical and financial failures and did not receive a wide release that made them eligible for the regular Razzie categories.