Laurentiu Ginghina is a pen pushing bureaucrat in a Romanian town who believes he has been cheated out of something by life, and that could stem from his early love of football. When he was a boy - he is now in his fifties - he was playing football with his peers when they decided to tackle him, about ten of them at once. The result was his leg was broken and he had to go to hospital, but the bone was not set properly, so when a few years later he was involved in a workplace accident, it compounded the injury and left him with a bad leg, and no possibility of ever playing football again, much as he would have liked to. But he remains obsessed with the game, to the point of devising a new set of rules designed to improve it and ensure no one ever has to suffer his indignities on the pitch...
A strong contender for most boring documentary ever made in the twenty-first century, director Corneliu Porumboiu kept things absurdly low key, with the most exciting thing to happen during the action being an interruption by a ninety-two-year-old lady about planning permission. Mostly it concentrated on the quietly aggrieved Ginghina, ostensibly to set out his revisions to football which largely consist of keeping the groups of players going for the ball at any one time as small as possible. He has noble intentions, he doesn't want the horrific attack he suffered to happen to anybody else, but what he has not counted on is that his rules are too complicated for the game to be carried out with the same efficiency as it would had he decided not to tamper with them at all.
They are certainly too difficult to get used to for the teams we see actually playing the game under this mild-mannered civil servant's notions of what makes the game safer, but as this drags on you begin to wonder somewhat horribly if the ghastly injury he endured as a youth was an accident at all, and perhaps he was a victim of severe bullying to get him off the pitch and away from everyone else way back then. He is utterly lacking in charisma, true, but you don't need movie star dazzle to open and fill envelopes, which is his desk job the director makes sure to film him performing duties at, but what would have helped would be if we could discern any reason for Ginghina to be filmed at all, so painfully unremarkable is he. Even his accounts of his travels to America go nowhere in particular.
After a while the interruptions from the little old lady and later, the subject's father at the family home come across as if Porumboiu realised with growing horror that his documentary was going nowhere fast, and these rules were useless for anyone even casually interested in football. If you had no interest, there was no reason to watch this at all for it does nothing to entice you in to understand the attraction of the so-called Beautiful Game (looking stultifying tedious in this telling), and if you were a fan then this little man's ideas for improving it would be so hard to follow that you would be terminally unimpressed. Therefore the film becomes an examination of his grey personality, with his hare-brained concoctions about sport the sole distinguishing feature, the rest of a life that was thwarted at every turn to become notable aside from having a film made about him. It would be poignant if he didn't remind one of the kind of person who strikes up unwanted conversations at bus stops; the best you could say is that it becomes hypnotically yawnsome, despite lasting just over an hour.