José’s internal tug of war slowly unravels over the course of the seven days leading up to the championship game. Jim McKay’s naturalistic drama finds José under pressure not just from his teammates but also from his boss and his pregnant girlfriend back home in Mexico. He barely masks the tiredness of carrying these conflicting demands. José serves as team captain, both officially on the field but also in his way at home and work, where he tries to look after his friends. He covers for a roommate’s injury and smooths things over with his demanding boss.
The actor behind José, Fernando Cardona, musters a sympathetic performance out of a character who always wears his poker face. He restrains himself during every setback and insult, with lips pressed closed and serious eyes looking forward. Occasionally, the cast’s inexperience trips up the dialogue’s rhythm, but the film would lack its natural, authentic cadence without these non-actors. Director McKay captures a genuine sense of the bittersweet reality of the American dream and the people who give up their only weekly day of rest just to keep it alive.