Maradona Blessed Dream, the 10-episode series from Amazon, may hook you in its steady outpouring of sex, drugs and fútbol. It will probably be the grandest film/series about Diego Armando Maradona that will ever be made. But if I hadn’t felt compelled to review it, I would have preferred to turn it off. It just feels so distasteful and disrespectful. Do we really want to remember Maradona by the depictions of his nightlife, copulations and orgies?
On the upside, this series from Director Alejandro Aimetta incorporates plenty of archive footage of Maradona’s greatest hits, key press conferences and interviews. In addition, the ending credits of each episode augment with more snippets. Putting that content all in one place convinces that Maradona could channel the energy from thousands of fans and produce rocket fuel.
So many details
Interspersed with the real life videos, the dramatic side of this biopic starts with Maradona’s near-death in 2000 and looks back to build a narrative as to what brought him to this deplorable state.
As a child, he grows up in a poor neighborhood without running water but with doting parents and supportive friends. His talent is recognized early, and he receives performance enhancing injections and later, a brothel inauguration at age 10. He turns pro at 16, makes 18 year old Jorge Cyterszpiler his agent, meets the love of his life, but is denied a place at the World Cup.
By Episode 4, Maradona’s career has moved from Boca to Barcelona. But the 22 year old Diego (Nazareno Casero) is not happy there, he doesn’t fit in. Although Maradona has money, he’s too low class.He also suffers a terrible injury and works to recover. A brawl on the pitch helps Cyterszpiler get him transferred to Napoli.
In Episodes 6-8, the low class vibe of Napoli puts Diego back in his element. But for some reason that Cyterszpiler cannot explain very well, Maradona is almost broke. Goodbye childhood friend Jorge, and hello to new agent Guillermo Coppola. Diego’s income revives, but his drug habit and high rolling life balloon under Coppola’s influence. The shanty town footballer evolves into a larger than life party machine.
Then it’s time for WC 1986 in Mexico. Maradona supposedly takes a break from the drugs and grows into the role of Argentina captain. Episodes 9-10 have no sex scenes because the players are sequestered for 2 months to concentrate on the tournament. Even without sex, there is still a good dose of male nudity.
Bouncing back and forth from the younger life story, the 40 year old Diego (Juan Palomino) is seen as a swollen largely comatose guy lying in an Uruguayan clinic. The smell of chorizo finally wakes him up in Episode 6. I’m not sure why this part of the drama is so overworked. Over 8 episodes, wife Claudia Villafañe presents as loyal but long-suffering, but by the end it is pretty clear that she hates him.
I sort of feel the same way.
The problem with biopics
The opening credits for each episode warns,
“Inspired by true events. Some elements were fictionalized. Any similarity with actual people is purely coincidental.”BTF Media
And isn’t that the problem with biopics? There’s no telling what’s true. Watching this series, you would believe that Maradona is the nicest coke-head you will ever meet. And perhaps by the time he did his stint in Maradona in Mexico, he was a nice guy.
But no matter what actor Nazareno Casero does to make the young Maradona appear lovable, it is undeniable that the man is a narcissist addicted to adulation. He is his own drug. The obvious parallels today are Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Donald Trump. Zlatan isn’t just a hand of God, he declares himself God. Because it’s good marketing. Society has come a long way, baby.
To get the real story
I had forgotten that after watching Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona in 2019, I then read the well-researched but unauthorized biography written by Jimmy Burns in 1996. I was surprised to see that this Amazon series tracks Burns’ book pretty well. Back in 1996, the book was pilloried in Argentina for trashing their hero. But you might want to give the Burns book a read; he published a new edition in 2021, after Diego’s death.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7
- Released: 2021-10-29 (Amazon)
- Spanish title is Maradona Sueño Bendito
- English title on Amazon is Maradona: Blessed Dream
- In Spanish or dubbed English with English sub-titles
- Dubbed in many languages
- Director: Alejandro Aimetta , Roger Gual (episodes 4-5 in Spain) , Edoardo De Angelis (episodes 6-8 in Italy)
- Starring as Maradona: Nazareno Casero (adult) , Juan Palomino (in hospital) , Nicolás Goldschmidt (teenager)
- Watch the Trailer in Spanish or in English
- Amazon Webpage