At the end of Rocky IV, the Italian stallion would put the Russians in his pocket and they would cheer for him (an American) instead of for Iván Drago, his compatriot. This was fiction; however, in reality, due to a careless request to the Neapolitans while a journalistic interview was being done, Maradona faced a similar situation when the semifinal was played between Argentina and Italy in the Italy 90 World Cup. At that time, Diego was part of the Napoli squad, a team that thanks to its fundamental contribution after leaving Barcelona began to position itself in the league grid and achieved several triumphs, such as the Italian Cup and years later the UEFA Cup (something that they had never been able to achieve before). Both the Napoli team and the region suffered from the same discrimination, in the points table and against the rest of Italy. In a certain way they were not “loved”, considered to be discredited compared to other regions and called “dirty” and “foul smelling”, as can well be seen in the flags that the bars of other teams held between matches, perhaps a link with which Diego was instantly identified: discrimination and poverty, his childhood in Villa Fiorito.
Because of Diego’s gift with the ball, the Neapolitans came to place him at the height of a God. This is one of the many facets of the soccer player presented in the documentary by Asif Kapadia, known for his previous biographical documentaries (Senna and Amy). Films whose titles only consist of a surname or a name unlike this, Diego Maradona. It is not by chance. The decision lies in the fact that, as in the film about María Callas (Maria by Callas), it is desired to split the personality in two, Diego and Maradona, in order to show his triumphs on the field and a large part of his attitudes in relation to his conflictive personality.
This is also how the documentary -which has had the approval of Maradona- goes pingponing -with the inclusion of a voiceover not only of Maradona but also of his ex-wife Claudia Villafañe and sports commentators such as Claudio Bonadeo or Daniel Arcucci- between master plays and very tough instances in the footballer’s life: the use of drugs, the non-recognition of a son, his relationship with the Italian camorra, the awareness of his addiction.
In the face of these two previous successes, Kapadia has become something of a celebrity documentary maker to whom everyone is paying attention. His greatest success was consolidated with Amy, however a fundamental difference arises between Senna / Amy and Diego Maradona: the latter is a public figure who is alive. The adrenaline of the tracks and the emotionality of the songs find replacement here in Maradona’s plays, celebrated and applauded in the parquet of a movie theater as if we were in the same stadium.
(United Kingdom, 2019)
Direction: Asif Kapadia. Lenght: 130 minutes.