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Zidane: un portrait du 21e siecle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
21 11 2006

Directed by Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno

ImageIs it a movie? Is it an art work? The only thing for sure is that this is no ordinary ‘portrait of' a sportsman in the expected documentary mode. A camera tracks Zinadine Zidane, beloved enigma and flawed hero of French football, in real time through a Real Madrid-Villa Real match in April 2005. Intermittently cut with grainy TV footage giving the wider picture, what you get is a dissection of a man, his movements, his body, his existence for almost 90 minutes.

We witness his grace and balance, his amazing acceleration from nothing, his intelligent watchfulness. And we realise how much of a footballer's life is spent waiting and anticipating rather than in action. (and how often he pulls up his socks!) Frustratingly at first, we rarely see the wider combat in which he is participating, other than on the interpolated TV footage, though as time goes on this isolation of the body, a heroic whole or chopped up into its constituent parts, cubist-by-montage, becomes a pleasure in itself. Other iconic faces float into the field of vision occasionally, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Beckham. But Zidane seems impermeable. The sea of faces behind him comes into and out of focus, in the same way that its sound changes from a blurred kind of musique concrete to natural full blooded roar. What is first interesting becomes boring then mesmerising.

Where the film fails is in its use of ‘quotes' in the form of subtitles, presumably from Zizou himself, which are often painfully banal rather than deeply meaningful. And the collage of ‘meanwhile around the world' events to fill in at half time adds nothing and had to me no significance.

So I really don't know about this - pretentious basically boring art work ripe for Pseuds' Corner or deep existential portrait of the essence of a modern hero? I swithered between the two opinions throughout. Would I watch it again, as I might return to see a work of art I liked? No. But to my surprise, on leaving, I heard a man ask his junior-school aged son whether he had enjoyed it, and the response was a heartfelt  ‘Ooh Yes!'

Seen at Curzon Soho, London, 2 November 2006

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