Coup de Tête, Jean-Jacques Annaud in the secret world of soccer

Film still of Coup de Tête © RR

Very few feature films made in France have been as skilful as Coup de Tête at capturing the behind-the-scenes world of sports. Released in 1979, this cynical comedy by Jean-Jacques Annaud made its mark on French cinema because of the way it looked at soccer. Here are three good reasons not to miss the film.

For its realistic take on soccer

Annaud was inspired to make Coup de Tête by the ascension to the Coupe de France of the club En Avant Guingamp from Brittany in 1973. To add credibility to his film, the director insisted on filming scenes from actual matches, into which he then inserted cut shots of his actors on the field. They were all shot at the half-time of the Auxerre-Troyes second division match. Guy Roux, the famous trainer from Auxerre, was an adviser to the director.

For the performance by Patrick Dewaere, brilliant as the banished loser who becomes a hero

The actor plays the role of François Perrin, an amateur player who is ousted from his team and from his job by Sivardière, the boss of the club and of the local factory. Dewaere is magnetic in this role of a clever soccer player who, under the guise of a fool, decides to avenge his mistreatment. To make up for his lack of soccer skills, the actor was doubled by Lucien Denis, defensive back for AJ Auxerre, wearing a mustache. This is why the actor also wears one in the film.

For the scorching rejoinders of Francis Veber

"I am supporting eleven imbeciles to keep another 800 happy, who are just waiting for a chance to make a fuss," fumes Sivardière, the president of AS Trincamp, in a scene from the film where he refers to his players and the supporters of the club. Penned by scriptwriter Francis Veber (La Chèvre, 1981 and Dîner de cons, 1998), many lines from the film script and dialogue have become cult phrases.