Hero, cheat, drug addict and god: ‘Amy’ director Asif Kapadia’s latest subject Diego Maradona has held all these titles at one point or another. Born in the poorest districts of Argentina, the only thing that was never in question about him was his talent with a football.
... when focussing on the life of a living god, it’s hard to be truly agnostic.
Using never before seen archive footage, Kapadia shows a life lived in the spotlight from a very early age. However it’s in its growing reliance on archive material that gradually exposes both its filmmaker as well as his subject…
In a tale of talent allowed to go unchecked, Maradona’s ascent, collapse and subsequent hounding by an overly demanding world bears many parallels to Kapadia’s ‘Amy’. However, where both ‘Amy’ and ‘Senna’ spent both their third acts examining the later culpability of the friends, colleagues and loved ones who should have been there for them, ‘Maradona’ does not.
Instead, arriving without fanfare or announcement, Maradona’s disembodied voice chips in from the side of the soundtrack. Unable to sew up any kind of context for his actions, Maradona swats away any opportunity for contrition and the filmmaker also avoids any kind of judgement.
As ‘Maradona’ leaves the pitch of its intention unanswered, it seems that once again the ugly hand of god may have interfered with his own story at an editorial level. Maybe it was a condition of his involvement. Maybe, when focussing on the life of a living god, it’s hard to be truly agnostic. Either way, ‘Maradona’ the documentary leaves the pitch with extra time still available. Sweeping up his current life in a truncated handful of consolatory scenes and bullet points, ‘Maradona’s’ real goal goes begging.
‘Maradona’ the documentary definitely shows that Diego Maradona is a genuinely fascinating character with an absurdly rich tale to tell. However, if Kapadia’s potentially premature portrait shows us anything, it is possibly that audiences will have to wait a good while longer before his real tale can be told.
With an aching absence of direct testimony, connected with a telling loss of possession in the final half, ‘Maradona’ the documentary sadly fails to score when much of the hard work has already been done.
In a great match of subject and talent, ‘Maradona’ sadly loses it on avoidable penalties.