Zinedine Zidane. A truly mesmerising footballer, an unpredictable and hotly tempered player, a reserved and talented figure, a genuine 20th century icon, take your pick. Hes won everything one footballer could feasibly win and a bit more besides – league championships in Italy and Spain, European Cups in both league and international formats, FIFA World Player of the years titles, not to mention the world cup. His transfer to Real Madrid, in 2001, cost a staggering 66 million euros
This summer, he made his dramatic exit from the world stage, and faded from public life, citing a frustration with injuries and poor form. But even at the end of such an illustrious career, he remains a relatively unknown figure, reticent off the field, a man of few words. Fine timing for a biopic, in other words.
It would have been, anyway. Here directors Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno have eschewed what would have been the obvious setup: talking heads, clips of past glory, comments from the man himself, and gone with something entirely different.
Using seventeen cameras, they filmed every aspect of Zizou at work, in a 92 minute match against Villareal in his last season playing for Real Madrid. The film consists solely of this footage – 92 minutes of closeups, effects, wide angles, mixed in with a few bits of commentary.
Gordon and Parreno have taken a risk, and produced something not seen before, which is always refreshing. Its a pity that what theyve produced is so incredibly, stultifyingly, unbelievably dull.
It offers no insight into Zidane whatsoever, and only one into the lives of footballers in general: when not running with the ball, they mostly walk slowly in circles, spitting a lot.
His every reaction is captured, but he never reacts to everything. A multitude of cameras are poised to record his every move, but so few are worth recording. His voice is picked up perfectly – but all he does is say “hey” every now and again. You get the feeling that, if technology had advanced enough for us to smell films (surely someone must be working on that), he wouldn’t have actually smelled of anything.
Briefly, subtitles are tacked on, almost as an afterthought, containing some of the usual banalities footballers come up with about how, basically, they like playing football. A couple of misplaced Mogwai tracks provide a lethargic soundtrack. Post-rocking away in the background, they do little to alleviate the feeling that you are wasting your life.
A boring, misconceived, waste of time – you’ll feel chestbutted.