The Keeper (2 stars)

The Keeper

David Kross stars in this fanciful biopic of Manchester City legend Bert Trautmann

Historically, footie flicks do not usually fare well, presumably because enthusiasts of the beautiful game prefer watching football to watching actors maintaining a less-than-convincing pretence. So, writer-director Marcus H Rosenmüller has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into his fanciful biopic of Bert Trautmann (played by David Kross, who was the boy in love with Kate Winslet in The Reader), a German paratrooper who, on his release from a Lancashire PoW camp, chose to stay in England, eventually becoming goalkeeper for Manchester City.

In telling Trautmann's tale, The Keeper tries to meld three elements. It starts off deceptively as a prisoner of war film that fizzles out. Then it turns into a light romantic drama of forbidden love with English rose Margaret (Freya Mavor), with the bitter resentments one can imagine that provoked in 1945, until Bert's prospective father-in-law (John Henshaw) gleefully capitalises on Trautmann's skills to change the fortunes of the pitiful local team. Then it's a straight run to sporting glory when Man City sign Bert, the first German to play for a top flight English team, amid furious hoo-ha and protests, before his miraculous saves turn the jeers to cheers.

Kross is very good and he and Mavor make an attractive couple, so it's reasonably pleasant for about the length of a game of football, yet it goes on and on as tragedies strike and things culminate in a ludicrously melodramatic turn. It also fudges the one great love it's selling: Trautmann already had an English lover and a child before he met Margaret, and he had two wives after her. The truer and better story to have dwelt on is the reconciliation between former enemies, brought about by a shared love of the game.

General release from Fri 5 Apr.

The Keeper

  • 2 stars
  • 2018
  • Germany / UK
  • 2h
  • Directed by: Marcus H Rosenmüller
  • Cast: David Kross, Freya Mavor, John Henshaw

Bert Trautmann (Kross) is a WW2 German paratrooper who, on being released from a Lancashire POW camp, chooses to stay in England and eventually becomes goalie for Manchester City. Rosenmüller throws in everything but the kitchen sink, but it becomes ludicrously melodramatic and focuses too much on the romance.