Jan Gilbert explains why Senna (12A) is her Movie of the Month
What’s the story? Life and death in the fast lane with Brazilian motor racing legend Ayrton Senna.
What’s it like? Think it’s easy to make a movie-doc about a man whose life was constantly caught on camera but make it feel brand-spanking new? Think again. It takes a heap of skill to make a movie that’s this exciting and jam-packed with heart-in-mouth moments even if you already know every jaw-dropping twist and turn of Senna’s story.
It’s 17 years since the Brazilian’s fatal crash at the San Marino Grand Prix, but the three-time Formula 1 World Champion is still recognised as one of the sport’s greatest drivers. Few have rivalled the golden combination of talent, ambition, and charisma that raised him to superstar status. Now British director Asif Kapadia has captured that magic on the big screen for the first time.
From his teenage years on the go-kart circuit to his battles with the big boys of F1, the film follows Senna as he lived life at full throttle. A bitter rivalry with French champ Alain Prost produces plenty of conflict and controversy at the heart of the film, and could well have you up on your feet cheering for Senna and jeering at Prost.
You wouldn’t know that this is Kapadia’s first movie-doc from the impressive film he’s put together. His fresh ideas and keen eye for what works on screen really hit the spot here. Gone are the talking heads who usually take up valuable screen time. Instead, Kapadia lays audio from his stash of new interviews with Senna’s friends, family, fellow drivers, and F1 experts, over a mass of footage from races, drivers’ meetings, and cockpit cameras.
Senna has all the action, drama, and intrigue of a top feature film. Perfect pacing by Kapadia and editors Chris King and Gregers Sall, smart scripting by writer Manish Pandey, and the genius of Senna himself, make for a movie that’s 100% gripping. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fully-fledged F1 fanatic or whether you don’t know your Jenson Button from your Benjamin Button, Senna is a thrilling trip you shouldn’t miss.
Any clever bits? Laugh along at the Brazilian boy wonder’s wicked humour and sense of fun. And watch wide-eyed at Senna’s seemingly superhuman successes on the F1 circuit. What other driver could triumph over teeming rain and a car jammed in 6th gear to win the championship?
Flipside’s verdict: A breathtaking ride.
Star Rating: 5*
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