Asif Kapadia (director)
14 June 2019 (released)
This excellent documentary concentrates on Diego Maradona’s period in Napoli and Italy, where he became saviour, god, devil and hated all within seven years.
It starts by virtually dismissing his two seasons with Barcelona as he joins the unfashionable Napoli 1984. The northern Italian teams were the powerhouses and Naples with its poverty and crime ridden streets was very much the butt of jokes - as heard in some rally vicious chanting from rival fans.
Unveiled to sixty thousand expectant fans that first season didn’t quite get off to the miraculous start they expected. However the seeds were sown and success was soon in his lap at domestic and world level.
Along with the fantastic archive footage that shows why he is one the top five players to have ever lived. There’s footage of his very poor childhood in the slums of Buenos Aires. Here he’s with his family, very loyal and close, as he gets more successful, he takes them with him.
But concurrent with his success is the money, the luxury, temptation and hangers on. Making some ill-advised acquaintances Maradona found himself spiralling into a world he couldn’t control.
To some extent it’s understandable. He’s a young man, an undeniably brilliant athlete, deified, with the world at his feet and money and influence to spare. But with success came boredom: what was there left for him to do? He wanted out but the owners of Napoli wouldn’t let him go - which is somewhat justified as they won the league again.
An already very divisive figure in Italy things went supernova after his penalty kick in Italia 90 against the hosts: that sealed his fate in footballing terms. Taken with his ever-increasing consumption of cocaine and some very dangerous ‘friendships’ it’s inevitable that the law will start to take an interest.
Told more or less chronologically by Asif Kapadia (Senna and Amy), using archive footage that while at times of poor quality perfectly gets over the seven years chaos of the time, the temptations and his weakness. However it’s the candid interviews with journalists, club officials, his family and him that the key here. They don’t spare anything as they reveal the intimate and intricate details of his life at that time.
What sympathy anyone has with Maradona is going to depend on the point of view that he received poor advice and was naive. Or that he was an arrogant so and so who knew what the pitfalls were and happily dived into them with all the hubris and arrogance that goes with that status.