Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Film Review: Senna
For months before and after its release it was hailed as an actual great film for both casual moviegoers and hardcore motorsport enthusiasts. After viewing it, I feel like it marginally met both standards for me.
The film is crafted entirely from historical footage both professional and personal. It does a solid job of covering Senna's professional career and personality showing both his competitive fire and softer touch--particularly with the people of his home country of Brazil.
Particularly well done was the film's ability to create opponents both on and off the track for Senna. The reality of the enmity between Senna and Alain Prost (on the track) and Jean-Marie Balestre (off the track) might be debated but at least here in the film, they are crafted as great foils to Senna, the racing white knight who in the end, is killed by Balestre's disregard for safety.
For all of the films positive qualities and tragic ending it never captured my imagination. It was far more antiseptic that I expected. Maybe that's because much of the footage is derived from the actual races themselves or the practices and interviews surrounding the races. The personal footage is the most interesting and also that in shortest supply here. Watching Senna with his friends, fans and family teaches you the most about who the man was and what he stood for. As usual in "documentaries" it is the more unscripted moments that are most illuminating. Senna is worth watching for its coverage of one of the major motorsports figures in the late 20th century, his death and some of the inner political dealings of the FISA (forerunner of the FIA), I'm just not willing to put it up there with the best films of '12 or in my all time favorites.