‘In From the Side’ Review: Love and Rugby Play a Losing Game

In Matt Carter’s gay rugby film, sports and romance smash together like two players from opposing teams.

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By Kyle Turner

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The sports romance always has a tinge of the workplace drama. A character’s ability to focus on an objective is shaped both by teammates, or co-workers, and by the world outside the game or workplace. But since most sports romances are the province of heterosexual story lines, the drama — the muddling of camaraderie, ambition and personal circumstances — plays out separately on and off the field. Matt Carter’s gay rugby film “In From the Side” seeks to bridge the gap between these genres, with mixed results.

In the sports half of the film, a gay rugby club in London makes efforts to be taken seriously, despite a lack of funding. In the romance half, Mark (Alexander Lincoln) hooks up with a member of a more accomplished team, Warren (Alexander King), behind the backs of their boyfriends. When Warren joins Mark’s team, they continue their fledgling romance but have to hide it from their teammates.

Carter, who co-wrote the screenplay with Adam Silver, wants to explore the effects of this kind of behavior, and its complex implications, when work and play are effectively the same thing: Friends get shafted, strategy is undermined and tangled tales end up entwining everyone even tangentially connected.

Instead, “In From the Side” feels too much like two separate movies smashed together like two players from opposing teams, making its 2-hour-and-14-minute run time a slog. Though Carter is competent at making the chaos of a rainy match or the ecstasy of a clandestine tryst watchable, his characters feel like sketches with barely any idiosyncrasies. What’s the point of watching the game if you don’t care about the players?

In From the Side
Not rated. Running time: 2 hours 14 minutes. In theaters.

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