Diego Maradona directed by Asif Kapadia [8/10]

What did I know of the soccer legend before viewing “Diego Maradona,” beautifully scripted and filmed by noted director Asif Kapadia? Just some sketchy memories from the early 90s. What do I know about the sport of soccer itself? Almost nothing. None of that handicapped my immersed pleasure in this blistering yet affectionate documentary. Kapadia seems to have unearthed a treasure trove of raw footage, from family scenes to crowd scenes, and he interposes it skilfully amidst public sports coverage. Maradona’s ball handling skills are sumptuously shown; more subtlety portrayed are his bulldog determination to succeed. “A bit of cheat and a lot of genius” is how one commentator judges him early in the film (blessedly the usage of external commentary is sparse), and then towards the bitter-sweet end another commentator pronounces him as God, which was how he was seen in Naples until the mass rejection. Kapadia keeps us close to the action although the man himself remains elusive, perhaps both slum-born good guy Diego and self-created tough baddie Maradona. A magically endowed star who plummets … riveting.

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