Star Rating:

Beckham 12+

Streaming On: Watch Beckham on Netflix

Season: 1

Episode: 4

Actors: David Beckham

Release Date: Wednesday 4th October 2023

Genre(s): Drama, Sports

Running time: 240 minutes

There are moments in 'Beckham' where you get a real sense of David Beckham and it's rarely from the litany of famous interviewees or his wife, Victoria.

It's in quieter, off-hand moments like the thorough cleaning of his kitchen that he seems to take great satisfaction in. Essentially, Beckham as a man who not only is in control of his surroundings but enjoys being in control of the situation. It's when things spiral away from him that you can see the pressure forming around the eyes.

The four-part documentary begins with the infamous moment from the '98 World Cup, wherein Beckham was sent off following a particularly charged encounter with Argentina and a famous kick that was seen around the world. Both Victoria and David clearly acknowledge it as "a moment of madness", however Victoria goes a step further and admits that her husband was effectively in a state of clinical depression from the incident. Much like other celebrity documentaries that are set in this time period, there's a sense that tabloid media was sadistic in its pursuit and public reaction was completely out of line with any kind of human decency. The impact it has is still being felt almost thirty years on.

The second episode takes on Beckham's early childhood and his unbridled successes with Manchester United, through to his complicated relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, both of whom speak of each other with the kind of fondness and humility you'd expect. Interestingly, Beckham's father and his repetitive, constant attention to training in his early years comes up and you can see David twitch slightly at the notion of being forced to take the ball under his control again and again. It's this kind of small, off-hand observation where 'Beckham' becomes less of a jaunt through the years and more of a deeper, psychological examination. Had the director - Fisher Stevens, AKA Hugo from 'Succession' - scratched a little harder and aimed away from the obvious "celeb" bullshit, there might have been a more interesting perspective on someone who's life has been dominated by a sport that he - whisper it - almost seems to resent.

Much like 'The Last Dance', the fusion of sports and celebrity makes up much of the docuseries. His marriage to Victoria Beckham and the rocky road through it comes into sharp relief at various points, not to mention Victoria Beckham's own tangling with celebrity culture through the years. Anna Wintour turns up for an interview, and archival footage of the time shows how consistently harassed she and David were by paparazzi. Again, both of them talk about how introverted they were, how they essentially grew up in front of cameras, and how privacy is now their most sacred possession - even as they make themselves candidly available to a documentary crew.

'Beckham' is a reasonably made docuseries that's illuminating and candid when it wants to be, but is sometimes far too controlled and inert for its own good. While David Beckham gets real about his life and times, and the interviewees are good fun in parts - Gary Neville is in rare form, as is Roy Keane - you get the sense that you're being told exactly what he wants people to know and nothing else.