This cable-ready biopic of the Brazilian soccer star covers the eight years leading up to his triumphant performance at the 1958 World Cup finals, when he was only 17. Writer-directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist frame the story as a nationalist journey, beginning with Brazil’s devastating loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup (in Bauru, where the boy lives, the entire neighborhood responds with funereal gloom) and stressing how the Brazilian team prevailed eight years later by renewing their commitment to the ginga playing style that originated with their African slave ancestors. Given the story’s thrust, one might expect Afro-Brazilian rhythms on the soundtrack, but instead there’s a rollicking, faintly Eastern-flavored score by veteran Indian composer A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire). With Vincent D’Onofrio, Colm Meaney, and—in a standout performance—Brazilian musician Seu Jorge as the hero’s proud father.
Pele: Birth of a Legend
PG • 1 hour 48 min • 2016