Diego Maradona review

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Asif Kapadia digs into the story of both Diego and Maradona for his new film, Diego Maradona.

Certificate: 15
Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast: Diego Maradona
Release date: 14th June
Reviewer: Hannah Turner

Asif Kapadia completes his trilogy of observational documentaries about enigmatic geniuses with the story of Diego Maradona. Kapadia shapes his narrative around the story of two characters: one named Diego, the other Maradona.

The film gives us rare access to intimate footage of Maradona from his own personal archive. A young, vibrant and potentially vulnerable footballer arrives in Naples entering the San Paolo Stadium like a gladiator to play a style of football he is unfamiliar with, and for a club (Napoli) that has not achieved great success. The club supporters and players are often victims of racist chants from visiting fans. The scene is set for the familiar underdog struggle narrative structure as seen in Kapadia’s other films, Senna and Amy.

Our unprecedented proximity to Diego is achieved via handheld personal footage shot by those who were there. The film is narrated by numerous insiders, including Maradona himself; this technique places us alongside a man we feel conflicted about. This film thus stands apart from Senna and Amy. An obvious difference is that it doesn’t end in the same tragic way – Diego doesn’t die young at the peak of his career as Senna and Amy do. This film is about getting old and your talent and fame fading. It’s about the terrifying trajectory of fame. How you can be made, ruined and even held hostage by the club that you have brought success to.

Maradona’s highly publicised decline as a result of his success was evident for the world to see. We simply didn’t know the story behind the legend, and this is where Kapadia’s forte lies. You enter the intense world of Italian football, fame, the mafia and addiction accompanied by a strong soundtrack provided by Antonio Pinto. As with all of Kapadia’s documentaries, the journey is never easy and we are confronted with some surprising insights into the life of a man made deity by his fans. The rise is never as glorious and straightforward as it appears. The fall is portrayed as complex and dramatic.

The myth, however, endures as the film concludes. Maradona’s story is both engaging and compelling, an interesting portrayal of a flawed character. This film reveals a softer Diego. You are presented with a man with an extraordinary talent both on and off the pitch to divide opinion and inspire undying love and hatred in equal measure. It is unlikely that you will find yourself in the same emotional, broken condition at the end of this film as you were with Senna and Amy, and you may not be able to forgive Maradona for the ‘Hand of God’. But it’s still a film you’re likely to get a lot out of, and strongly recommended.

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