Friday's showing of Zidane: Un Portrait du XXIe Siècle (A 21st Century Portrait) surpassed my lofty expectations, and was the perfect example of why an annual like the Toronto International Film Festival keeps people coming back. You're never quite sure what you're going to get, good or bad, and this, happily, was one of the good ones.
This is a film that will likely not achieve wide release (so far, nothing in that regard) and I wonder how effective it would be on television's smaller screen -- not nearly as arresting, I reckon, as it proved on the Varsity's wide screen. While not trying to explain Zidane like a traditional documentary would -- there's not a world of dialogue, and about the only thing the great French star says is "hey" or "here" as he prowls the green -- it instead focuses on his every move during an April 2005 Real Madrid match at the Bernabeu. In the end, it's the portrait of the footballer at work, far more impressionist exercise than sports doc. At its best, it's utterly mesmerizing.
Robert Di Zio, a teacher and coach at Senator O'Connor, picked up one of the tickets on offer at JABS last week, and checks in with his "film-inspired observations" here:
In soccer, as in life …
We find the truly fascinated, fascinating.
We spend most of our time without the ball.
Be ready. Know it might be your moment; don’t be surprised when it isn’t.
Walk. Speed and power are effective only because they’re contrasts.
Never touch the ball twice when once will do. Don’t touch it once if none will do.
Give up the ball, trust. Don’t stop trusting when you don’t get it back.
Smile … but only when you mean it.
When you could swear ‘it’s about you’, give your head a shake, it’s not.
Worthwhile time is never remembered linearly.
Keep intermissions short, bad things happen when you’re not playing.
Spitting is forgivable only when you’re playing hard.
Play as if the final score is easily forgettable, because it is.
Film’s final caption:
(in soccer there is) “almost magic, then nothing”
“almost magic” is everything
I couldn't have said it near as well myself. Many thanks, Rob.