- James Mottram
- 20 May 2019
Cannes 2019: Asif Kapadia profiles the legendary footballer in his characteristic style
After Senna and Amy, British director Asif Kapadia completes his unofficial trilogy with another documentary portrait of a fallen star, peerless footballer Diego Armando Maradona. Focusing primarily on his eight years in Italy, when he propelled Napoli to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup win, Kapadia's film is very much carved out in the same style as his earlier works, as new, audio-only interviews are cut to archive footage.
The big difference is that, unlike singer Amy Winehouse and racing driver Ayrton Senna, Maradona is still alive (though you have to wonder how, given his well-documented abuse of his body in later years). Kapadia does get time with his subject, who goes on the record about his party lifestyle that really came to the fore in Naples, when he became heavily addicted to cocaine under the watchful eye of Neapolitan mobsters the Camorra.
But Kapadia gives equal room to the sporting highs, as Maradona moves in 1984 from a torrid two-year spell at Barcelona to lowly Napoli. Two years later, he's spearheading his native Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, including that quarter-final win against England where he scored a pair of goals: one, an unforgettable solo run; the other, the infamous 'Hand of God' – summing up why so many have a love-hate relationship with him.
Kapadia doesn't dwell for too long on this over-analysed moment; Maradona's life is far too eventful to be defined by one game. If the director's latest isn't as moving or compelling as Amy or Senna, it's perhaps because Maradona's third act has yet to be played out. But, by reserving some focus for his illegitimate son – who he refused to acknowledge for years – Kapadia finds enough emotional heft to ensure this isn't just a celebration of Diego's greatest goals.
Screening as part of the Cannes Film Festival 2019. General release from Fri 14 Jun.