Senna (2010)

Directed by Asif Kapadia

The remarkable story of Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, charting his physical and spiritual achievements on the track and off, his quest for perfection, and the mythical status he has since attained, is the subject of Senna, a documentary feature that spans the racing legend's years as an F1 driver, from his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later.

Cambridge Film Festival 2023: Film #7

It's almost difficult to go too far wrong when you start with a story such as this. Still, the only obvious negatives are the rather shallow approach to Brazilian history, culture and politics, as well as a slight lull in the action before the driver's inevitable death. Delving deeper, however, whilst Senna hints at the psychosexual dimension of Formula One, it only really seems to see this in terms of the drivers' allure on the part of women. Indeed, it almost seems to endorse the (obviously dated) sexist attitudes displayed in interviews and believes that "women were attracted to Senna" is all that could be said. (Hemingway would surely have written about Formula One drivers, not bullfighters, and the manner in which heterosexual men were compelled, if not attracted, to them.) Senna also seems uncritically accept Senna's belief in God and that God had spoken to him, which, to this viewer at least, seems like it could be more than connected to many facets of his personality, the least of which would be his apparent death drive. Still, a great documentary.