Maradona’s story at the height of his career has been covered sufficiently and common knowledge at this point
The three documentaries directed by Asif Kapadia –Senna (2010), Amy (2015) and Diego Maradona (2019) – make up a kind of treble-biller of fallen idols, legends who lived on the edge, skirting disaster, and who ended up paying the ultimate price or suffering a resounding fall from grace capable of deleting the person from the face of the earth – in the case of Maradona, the flesh and blood one that is, he was made into a cartoon decades ago – while the myth survives. There is no doubt that Diego Armando Maradona’s is one of the great stories of our time: despite the passage of time in Naples he is still a venerated figure like San Jenaro, patron saint of the city, while in Argentina, where football is as a matter of life or death, he’s still the one and only D10S – and Messi is merely a apprentice. Every aspect of his story is amazing; the grimy kid who grew up in a rough, run-down suburb, crowned a footballing genius, who burned the candle at both ends in the wrong company, who made George Best’s raunchiest sex and alcohol-driven parties look like a girl scouts jamboree, all while scoring some of the most memorable goals, masterful play and unsurpassed charisma.
Maradona’s story at the height of his career has been covered sufficiently and common knowledge at this point. It was the 1986 World Cup and ‘the hand of God’, the goal after dribbling the entire English team from the center of the pitch; his canonization in Naples, his addiction to cocaine and his ties to the Camorra; his disqualification in 1990 and his final decline in the United States World Cup, where he again tested positive for doping. But even so, his story had yet to be told in depth, meticulously and with extensive background and archive material, a task Kapadia diligently undertook, carefully documenting everything in a story that is much more than football, and that – as the opening scene of the film shows, with Maradona’s car arriving at the Naples stadium as synthetic music plays in the background reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack to Scarface-, is about the rise of a nobody and his dangerous connections to power, until one day, power stops protecting him and he becomes the villain. The best thing about Diego Maradona is the subtle parallel drawn between him and Tony Montana, Brian de Palma’s self-made gangster, alone against the world.
As with his documentary about Amy Winehouse, Diego Maradona has one weak point: the excessive footage -130 minutes-, especially since many images have been seen too many times, and many others are redundant; I say, pass me the scissors and speed the pace up a bit, and an already winning horse would have benefitted remarkably. But he has several crucial factors playing in his favor, including the amazing documentary flow, the efficient way of telling the story – without ever fully committing to be either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the protagonist; Kapadia undresses him fairly – and with the sense of opportunity, just when Amazon Studios is preparing a biopic about Diego as a supplementary piece to the Movistar + movie, F.C. Maradona, on the Argentine star’s days at FC Barcelona. Both pieces together fulfill the task of showing the life of an extraordinary being almost as if it were a Greek tragedy.