Nick Hornby's done a clever thing. While a Hollywood studio has bought the rights to his best-seller High Fidelity, and are trying to work out how to Americanise it, he's transposed the battle of the sexes scenario on to this most parochial of romantic comedies - only he's passing it off as Fever Pitch, an adaptation of his first, strictly unfilmable book. Firth is Paul, an English teacher with an unhealthy obsession for Arsenal Football Club. Gemmell is Sarah, a starchy colleague who despises the game and the hooligans who follow it - Paul, especially. You don't need a crystal ball to predict the result. Mercifully dispensing with the best part of 25 seasons of Highbury inaction, the film concentrates on the championship hopes of 1988-9, with brief, explanatory flashbacks to Paul's childhood. The focus is a kind of reverse angle on conventional soccer coverage, with the camera trained on the fans, not the players. Director Evans doesn't catch the psychological acuity of Hornby's prose, but he brings the push and pull of that fateful season to life even for non-Arsenal fans, and scores early on with a very funny seduction scene. Gradually, though, the energy sags. It's so much more in love with football than heterosexual relationships. The mismatched couple is a staple of screwball comedy, but these characters are fundamentally dislikeable - he's an arrested adolescent with a one-track mind, she's got nothing going for her at all.
Cast and crew