Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend review — Charts the topsy-turvy, dramatic life of a modern football star
Antoine Griezmann is an incredible striker. Under the stewardship of Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone, he’s blossomed into a well-rounded player, while simultaneously rising up the ranks of the finest strikers in world football. He’s a gifted reader of the game, possesses acute footballing intelligence and is prolific in front of goal. His remarkable ability to feed off and complement Diego Costa’s imperious presence has haunted the best defensive formations. Griezmann has gradually become a talismanic figure in his club and national teams. The top clubs of the world have taken notice, alongside the millions of fans and numerous top brands eager to have his perpetually smiling face endorsing them. Not bad for a short, scrawny kid who was turned down by one French club after another in his early teens.
Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend packs all this and more in a hour-long spin through the ups and downs of modern professional football. Despite the initial reservations about a documentary focusing on a player who’s years away from retirement, especially one explicitly declaring him a legend in the title itself, it turns out to be a rewarding, neatly structured watch. It will definitely inspire legions of young boys and girls who dream of a career in a game that’s becoming increasingly physical, fast-paced and glamorous. For the casual viewer not particularly interested in football, it may hold value as the tale of a boy who didn’t seem to possess the physical attributes necessary for the game, but proved the naysayers wrong — and how.
Two parallel storylines, focused on Griezmann’s club and national career, run through the film. His ascent up the club ladder is explored in depth. The French team’s progress to the World Cup trophy in 2018 provides the material for his journey with the national team. There are extended sequences filmed on the training grounds and inside dressing rooms. They provide the viewers a peek at Griezmann and his teammates away from the media glare, as real people sharing joys and sorrows. A goofy, childlike young man who breaks into amusing dances while celebrating his goals comes through these images, one who’s never far away from a smile.
It wasn’t always rosy for him. As a short statured teenager, Griezmann was turned down by all the big French clubs, his father visibly dismayed by the endless travelling that turned up nothing but disappointment. A scout suggested that he try for the Spanish clubs instead, because their philosophy didn’t revolve around physical prowess. Reluctantly, Griezmann’s father capitulated. Real Sociedad came calling. At the age of 14, Griezmann left home and hearth for Spain.
Griezmann’s rise up the club system, his professional turn and eventual bloom under Simeone follows. The changes he made to his game at Atletico paid dividends during the World Cup, where he led France to a historic triumph. The filmmakers do a competent job of flitting between the two stories, resulting in a bracing narrative. But the emotional depth of the documentary makes for its most pleasantly surprising attributes. The initial years spent away from his family, the odd mistake made during his time at big clubs, the temptation of playing for an even bigger club and the fans’ backlash to this news, the film makes room for all these. The most moving segment of the film comes right at the end. France has just won the World Cup. Griezmann remembers the day he left home for a foreign country at such a young age, unsure of what the future held for him. Tears stream down his face remembering his mother, who’d be the only one asking questions about his private life and not just the football.
From being the best player in La Liga in 2015-16 to missing a penalty during the Champions League final against bitter rivals Real Madrid, the documentary charts the topsy-turvy and increasingly dramatic life of a modern football star. And Griezmann appears to wear this stardom with relative ease. He radiates a genuine sense of warmth in his play and conduct with his teammates. Perpetually joking and smiling, a near childish aspect sets him apart, and the documentary goes some way in reinforcing that belief. Antoine Griezmann may not be a legend. Not just yet. But if he carries on playing the way he is, he might well end up as one.
Rating: ★★★ and 1/2
Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend is currently streaming on Netflix.
Updated Date: Apr 05, 2019 12:16:07 IST
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