Writer-Director Paolo Sorrentino has credited Diego Maradona for inspiring him, and in his semi-autobiographical The Hand of God, we discover that Sorrentino’s fandom saved his life. But this is not really a soccer movie.
From what I read about Diego Maradona when he was alive, it was not easy to get him or his inner circle to talk about the unsavory side of his life. Drugs, alcohol, gangsters, infidelities, children that he refused to acknowledge, more drugs… To reveal the truth would mean falling out of favor and losing access to the man, his money, and his celebrity. So it isn’t surprising that those who worked closely with him did not come forward until this documentary, pretty much just a month after he died.
Having reviewed so many Maradona films and series, I was sorely confused when I began to watch the Argentine docuseries Bilardo, el doctor del fútbol. In all the Maradona shows I’ve seen, coach Carlos Bilardo is portrayed as a very minor but unpleasant character, someone who calls the shots for the Argentina NT but otherwise is buried in the background. So for me, this 4-episode HBOMax docuseries is a soccer revelation that thoroughly describes the man behind Maradona’s success.
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?
Right now, Amazon is showing Season 1 of Maradona Sueno Bendito, a 10-episode compilation of “sex, drugs, and historic goals”. While waiting for that serie’s episodes to appear, I supplemented my viewing with this similarly-themed feature film, which was produced in Italy and released in 2007.
Before there was Messi, there was Maradona. Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona is an extraordinary football film in its collection of Maradona’s greatest hits: his passes and shots as well as the violence perpetrated upon him by opponents. In extensive footage, time and time again Maradona throws off tackles like a dog shaking off raindrops. There is not a single moment where he looks ordinary on the field. Even his juggling during practice is something I had never seen before.
In the Hands of the Gods follows five British freestylers over a 6-week odyssey as the young men work their way from London to Argentina to meet Diego Maradona. This documentary is very similar to the movie Pelada, but it has a lot more friction and conflict, because the five have set out on their journey without a plan or money.