Basketball is my sport, always has been and always will be. But I simply can’t resist sports films or documentaries, it’s just not in me. And one about a team going back to glory in one of the weirdest seasons of sports, that is something I simply couldn’t ignore. The End of The Storm follows the 2019-2020 Liverpool FC squad as they try to get back to glory and find their way to the top of the English Football Premiere League, a feat the club hadn’t been able to accomplish in over 30 years.
What will be interesting in the coming months is to see documentaries that started filming before the pandemic and had to halt and alter their films because of it. It’s clear that the filmmakers didn’t know what would happen but somehow the documentary got a lot more interesting once the pandemic hit because they were smart enough to put everything in perspective. Because Liverpool is one of the most famous and cheered football teams around the world, they were able to get fans from around the world, even one from Wuhan who spoke directly on his experience when the city went into complete shutdown. What The End of The Storm does so well, it’s to put in perspective what the world was going through and what the club was going through. Yes, the players and coach admit that it was a shock but also, they don’t shy away from the reality that they had nothing to complain about really, that this is much bigger than just football. By grounding it, the filmmakers are able to create a story that is bigger than just a football club trying to win their league for the first time in 30 years, they humanize these players and coach so that by the end, as they lift the trophy, you can’t help but feel connected to them.
Sure, at times The End of The Storm feels like propaganda, telling us how great and perfect Liverpool FC is, but also they can’t really make this team feel like underdogs because they aren’t. Liverpool might haven’t won the league in 30 years, but this was a team coming off winning a Champions League, with some of the best players in the world and the manager of the year, so trying to make them an underdog story was never going to happen. And so, at times, the film does feel like it is just trying to shove down our throats how great the team is and how the organization is the best in the world. That might be true, but when half an hour of the runtime is just everyone telling us that, it becomes a bit too much.
I might not be a Liverpool FC supporter, but the team’s success during the 2019-2020 campaign is hard to ignore and The End of The Storm really shows you why. They were dominant on every end of the field and you can’t help to cheer on them. As someone who has seen a lot of sports documentaries (and some about the same team too), I do wish the documentary had gone a little bit more in-depth in the team’s history and why winning the league was so important to the club but also the supporter. I had the context but for someone who might not, this would of for sure benefitted the film.
Would The End of The Storm work this well if it wasn’t for the pandemic? I have no idea but the pandemic and the reaction to it, the return after months away and the fact that the documentary was able to include fans who had suffered because of the pandemic elevates it. Maybe if the reaction to it had been different and more self-centred on themselves and not the world, then maybe this would have been different, but it wasn’t.
The End of The Storm doesn’t change the formula of a sports documentary, as we follow the team through their highs and lows, but that doesn’t matter because it works. It’s a formula we know and yet, The End of The Storm exploits it to its advantage and creates a documentary that did get me in my feelings and had me crying by the time the team were rising the trophy above their head.