directed by Asif Kapadia
I have to admit: I am not a racing fan in any of its permutations. In fact, before watching this stunning doc, the only reason I even knew Ayrton Senna’s name was because of a Trivial Pursuit question. Or was it Jeopardy? At any rate, the trailer for this doc struck a chord in me that compelled me to the theatre, and director Asif Kapadia did not disappoint. Crafted entirely (bar some currently recorded audio, over dubbed) from original news, interview, home video and race footage, Kapadia attempts to assemble an idea of the man behind the wheel. Ayrton Senna was one of the of the finest Formula 1 racers of all time, which may not mean much to a lot of people, and perhaps F1 is much more popular globally than it is here in the US of A, but Kapadia doesn’t dwell on the specifics (though F1 fans will find those components as well). Instead, he focuses on trying to show the world of racing as Senna saw it, a world of beauty and strength and precision and balls out courage. Senna is a mesmerizing character, a man so devoted to his craft that it would be almost comical if it wasn't so damn contagiously visceral. By the end, you are literally right in the driver’s seat during Senna’s ill fated final race and absurdly, heart breakingly tragic end. Senna is a must watch for fans of documentary film, fans of racing, and fans of getting caught up in a sense of searching. Senna’s quest was not unlike the philosophy of surfing culture, of the search being as important as the culmination, but the doc leaves you with a longing to be as connected to something as Senna was, and I mean that in a good way. It just may invigorate you.