Diego Maradona (2019)

It should have a slightly wider appeal than just football fans in general, but this documentary isn’t as spectacular as the genius at its center.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Asif Kapadia
2019 | UK | Documentary/Biography/Sport | 130 mins | 1.85:1 | Spanish & Italian
Not rated – likely to be at least NC16 for coarse language and drug references

Cast: –
Plot: Constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, this documentary centers on the career of celebrated football player Diego Armando Maradona, who played for S.S.C. Napoli in the 1980s.
Awards: Nom. for Best Documentary (BAFTAs); Nom. for Golden Eye (Cannes)
International Sales: Altitude Film Sales

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No

Asif Kapadia has in the last decade made a name for himself as a pretty good documentary filmmaker who profiles the life stories of famous celebrities in deep, affecting ways. 

His most popular work came in the form of the Oscar-winning Amy (2015), though Senna (2010) was to me an even better film. 

His latest, Diego Maradona, is the weakest of the trio, but it is generally still a decent documentary about one of the greatest footballers of all-time, who unlike Amy Winehouse and Ayrton Senna, is well and alive.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons Diego Maradona doesn’t feel uncompromising and revelatory enough. Another issue is its pacing—the film is not tight enough, and a tad too long without being consistently compelling. 

“When you’re on the field, life goes away, the problems go away, everything goes away.”

Still, the documentary should have a slightly wider appeal than just football fans in general. It chronicles the key milestones of the Argentine footballer’s life, or as he puts it, both the ‘Diego’ (a.k.a. personal life), and ‘Maradona’ (a.k.a. public image) parts of his persona. 

It also comprises entirely of archived and personal footage with new interviews presented in the form of voiceovers. 

While the documentary isn’t as spectacular as the genius at its center, its strongest sections are when it focuses on Maradona’s relationship with the people of Naples, or the Neapolitans as they are called, when he was playing for their beloved club, S.S.C. Napoli. 

To be called God and the Devil within a span of a few years by those who adore him very much captures the myth of this man.

Grade: B



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