Senna review

F1 legend Ayrton Senna had the makings of a movie star. Unlike the scarily consistent German record-destroyer that would dominate the sport for years after his death, the Brazillian was a hot-blooded, passionate soul whose heart always overruled his head and had an attitude to match that would frequently get him in to trouble. It is some wonder, then, that a documentary about his life hasn’t been made before now.

The film lets the action tell the story, relying heavily on archive material instead of interviews and narration and does so with confidence, exemplified by the fact that it shows Senna’s fatal crash just once, actually making it all the more powerful a moment than if, say, it had shown it at various speeds from numerous angles, as the temptation and expectation might be. But it also tells a good story, even establishing baddies for the hero to fight against; Alain Prost who, like Michael Schumacher, let his head rule his heart, as his enemy on the track and Jean-Marie Balestre, the maniac who ran motor sport’s highest echelon with an iron fist, behind the scenes.

As a fervent F1 follower, I may not be the best person to judge the documentary. It is very descriptive and doesn’t quite explore the depths of the great man’s psyche enough and what really made him who he was. The film is also quite biased, reverential, and unbalanced as a result. At the other end of the scale, though, you don’t need to be a racing enthusiast to appreciate Senna, just like you don’t need to have given a moments thought about tightrope walking to enjoy Man on Wire. This is a well-made documentary telling a fine tale with a true hero at its heart.

3 out of 5

16th Jun 2011 | Official site | On IMDb