It’s not actually necessary to know much about Formula One to become immersed in this brilliantly assembled portrait of the Grand Prix circuit’s greatest-ever talent. It’s just over 17 years since the loss of Ayrton Senna, and Asif Kapadia’s documentary is both a welcome reminder of a gifted sportsman who pushed his abilities to the very limits of possibility, and an involving, surprisingly emotive portrait of a very spiritual man whose faith was tested by serial run-ins with both racing rivals and the F1 governing body. What’s remarkable is that Kapadia (with the help of the Senna estate) has been able to tell the story entirely through existing footage, both on and off the track, so the dramatic contours of his tragically foreshortened life are always unfolding right there before our very eyes. We feel the Brazilian’s frustrations and share his triumphs, as tension mounts towards his final date with destiny at Imola in 1994. Gripping, revealing, and ultimately affecting. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).
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